The government of Canada has published its annual report on the terrorism threat to Canada in which it names five groups of people as posing a security threat to the country. These are Sunni Islamist Extremists, Right-wing extremists, Shia extremists, Canadian extremist travelers and additionally Sikh (Khalistani) extremists.
The Globe and Mail paper notes that the report has included Sikh Khalistani extremists as a new group that poses a terrorism threat level in 2018 and does not provide any explanation about this addition.
The report says the threat level against Canada remains stable with no growing signs of imminent danger but is at medium – that there exists the possibility of a terror attack.
However, the report notes that “The threat posed by those espousing violent interpretations of religious, ideological or political views persists,” which brings in Sikh Khalistani extremists.
The report notes that Canada is home to “those who support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements. This political movement aims to create an independent homeland for Sikhs called Khalistan, in India.”
The report also says, “While attacks around the world in support of this movement have declined, support for the extreme ideologies of such groups remains.” It also names two organisations with extremist links: For example, in Canada, two key Sikh organizations, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation, have been identified as being associated with terrorism and remain listed terrorist entities under the Criminal Code.
The report places the threat level from Sikh Khalistani extremists at a lower level as compared to those associated with Islamic State. The report says, “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.” This statement is a reference to the 1985 Air India bombing by Khalistani terrorists in which 331 people were killed remains the deadliest terrorist plot ever in Canada's history.
But, this report with the inclusion of 'Khalistani extremists' comes ten months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India during which New Delhi repeatedly highlighted the persistent threat of Khalistani extremists who have found safe haven in Canada. This point was driven home after photos of one Jaspal Atwal, a Canadian with established links to Khalistani organisations, posing with Trudeau highlighted the access available to such individuals.
In October of this year, another Canada based organisation Sikhs for Justice says it plans to hold polls in several Canadian cities as part of a worldwide referendum for an independent Sikh nation called Khalistan in Punjab state. The group said it plans the referendum for November 2020 “to assess the appetite for an independent Khalistan,” before presenting this demand for a binding referendum to the United Nations.