Canada snubs so-called 'Punjab 2020 Referendum', experts call it India's diplomatic victory
Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], July 25 (ANI): Sikh leaders and experts have deemed it a diplomatic victory for New Delhi after the Canadian government snubbed 'Punjab 2020 Referendum' by a US-based secessionist group that seeks a separate homeland of Khalistan for Sikhs in India.
Responding to queries from ANI regarding the Canadian government's stand on the so-called referendum scheduled for November this year, a spokesperson of the country's Foreign Ministry stated in an email response that Canada respects the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of India, and the Government of Canada will not recognize the referendum.
Reacting on the developments, DGP, Punjab (Retd.), Shashi Kant told ANI, "I don't call it a referendum because referendum only happens within the geographical limits of any country. Sitting here, we can't do a referendum on the sovereignty of the USA, United Kingdom or any other country. That is not correct".
He added, "Again, the point is the statement by the Canadian government that they will not recognise the `Referendum 2020' by a US-based organisation. This is a big victory for the Government of India's foreign policy which shows that it's paying dividends. The other countries are very much respecting India's sovereignty".
Shashi Kant, a Punjab cadre IPS officer, who served in several positions in his career before retiring in 2012 as DGP said, "The Canadian government has had a stand of non-interference in the matters of ethnic and religious groups. The non-interference remained till the activities did not pose a threat to Canada's sovereignty, integrity and security. The recent statement is very balanced vis-a-vis foreign policy. It is in accordance with the foreign policy and adopted national policy of the Canadian government".
Maninderjeet Singh Bitta, the chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front said, "`Referendum 2020' is nothing but `propaganda by Pakistan's ISI, which is backing and funding them".
He said, "The Sikhs abroad are much closer to their religion and have promoted Sikhism the world over. If few people speak in favour of Khalistan, it doesn't mean that the entire Sikh community is supporting them".
"It is good news that Canada has made such a statement. I am really thankful to the Canadian government for this. Wait for some time; you will soon get similar statements from the UK and the USA. If all countries impose a ban on them, it will come to an end. We want these countries to hand over such anti-India elements to the Indian authorities so that they can be brought to justice," Bitta said further.
He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making no compromise in dealing with such things. "He has been doing a lot for the Sikh community. Be it the opening of Kartarpur Corridor or removing the names of Sikhs living abroad whose names are removed from the blacklist", he said.
Meanwhile, an MLA from Punjab's Kharar, Kanwar Sandhu said, "As far as Indian Constitution is concerned, there is no provision to carry out a referendum in any part of the country. Any such move is nothing but propaganda and the Canadian government is absolutely right in saying what they have said. And I have a feeling that no duly elected democratic government would recognise this and whosoever tries to recognise such a thing will lose their own credibility".
He told ANI, "I personally feel that there is no such movement in Punjab. These people who are indulging in this propaganda are actually doing a tremendous amount of damage to the Punjabiyat and the Sikh community. Youth, who do not know what this is about, maybe supporting it, knowingly or unknowingly, wittingly or unwittingly, or maybe associating with some people who are associated with this thing and in the process, they are being booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act". (ANI)