The Canadian government has listed Khalistani extremism among the threats the country is facing. This is the first time the country has mentioned Khalistani extremism in its annual federal report on terror threats since its inception in 2013.
In the “2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada”, the Justin Trudeau government has described Khalistani extremism as a political movement that “aims to create an independent homeland for Sikhs called Khalistan in India”.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who launched the national strategy on countering radicalisation to violence, submitted the report to the government on Tuesday. According to the report, the principal terrorist threat to the country continues to be individuals and groups inspired by violent Sunni Islamist ideology and terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
“Furthermore, Shia and Sikh [Khalistani] extremism also remain of concern because while their attacks in Canada have been extremely limited, some Canadians continue to support these extremist groups, including through financing,” the report said.
Khalistani extremism has been listed as a separate section in the report, along with Sunni Islamist, Right-Wing, Shia extremism, and Canadian extremist travellers, or “individuals suspected of travelling abroad to engage in extremist activity”. The report said Sikh groups Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation are associated with terrorism and are listed as terrorist entities under Canada’s Criminal Code.
The report referred to the 1985 terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182 by Khalistani terrorists, which killed 331 people, and described it as “ the deadliest terrorist plot ever launched in Canada”.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada President Mukhbir Singh told The Times of India that it was “deeply disappointing to see imagined ‘Sikh extremism’” being mentioned in the report. “Advocacy for Sikh human rights or Khalistan is not extremism and to suggest that it poses a danger for Canada is absolutely ludicrous,” he said.