“The Canadian government has been urged to launch an investigation into Gurpatwant Pannun, legal counsel for Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), over allegations of promoting hate through a recent video targeting Canadians of Indian origin, particularly Hindus.
In a letter addressed to Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Marc Miller, on behalf of the Hindu Forum Canada, the law firm Brauti Thorning based in Toronto expressed the possibility that if Mr. Pannun was in Canada at the time of making these statements, he could potentially face investigation and charges related to public incitement of hatred or the willful promotion of hatred.
The controversial video was released shortly after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on September 18, where he mentioned “credible allegations” regarding a potential link between Indian agents and Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent figure associated with Khalistani activism. Nijjar, who served as SFJ’s principal figure in the province of British Columbia, was fatally shot in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara he oversaw in Surrey on June 18.
In the viral video, Pannun can be heard saying, “Indo-Hindu, leave Canada and go to India.”
“You are not only endorsing India but also endorsing the restriction of speech and expression among pro-Khalistan Sikhs,” he remarked, further noting that this support amounted to “encouraging violence by commemorating” Nijjar’s “assassination.”
“Sent by the partner of the law firm, Peter Thorning, on Tuesday, the letter expressed concern, stating, “Mr. Pannu’s recent remarks have not only caused distress and trauma within the Hindu community but have also deeply affected Canadian citizens at large. The dissemination of a hateful video across various social media platforms has only exacerbated these concerns. This situation is deeply worrisome, and Canada must not tolerate the incitement of violence targeting any specific group within its borders.”
The letter emphasized the importance of not condoning or ignoring such hateful speech, as it has a negative impact not only on adults but also on children attending schools, colleges, and universities. The potential for these discussions to create tensions and divisions within the population cannot be disregarded, the letter added.
It also referred to provisions in Canadian law related to public incitement to hatred and the willful promotion of hatred, both of which are serious offenses with the possibility of imprisonment for up to two years, or summary conviction. The letter highlighted that Section 319 of the Criminal Code prohibits inciting or promoting hatred against an identifiable group, with no doubt that Hindus fall into that category.
Additionally, the letter called for Pannun to be declared inadmissible to Canada. However, given that he holds dual citizenship in both the United States and Canada, he cannot be barred from entering the country.
Thorning informed the Hindustan Times that individuals engaged in hate speech could potentially be investigated by the police. He added that they would await a response from the Minister’s office and said, “If the Government does not take appropriate action or conduct a proper investigation, we will consider the next steps.”
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had organized protests outside India’s missions in Canada on Monday, although the total turnout was less than 200 individuals. SFJ has also announced that the next phase of the so-called Khalistan Referendum is scheduled to take place on October 29 in Surrey.”