WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. Canada: The World Sikh Organization was not surprised by the “blast” from Mr. Sharma of the Indian Consulate when he Visited Williams Lake, but what took him so long?

Last month, when he visited Canada, India’s foreign secretary was outraged by press questions demanding answers for the interference by India and External Affairs in genuine Sikh refugee cases. In an angry blast of his own, he accused the Canadian press of being “masterminded” by Sikhs, called his own consular officials incompetent, and threatened to recruit journalists into the Foreign Service if consular offices in Canada couldn’t get better news coverage for India. Press reports stated he pointedly told them to focus on anti-Sikh statements. Mr. Sharma’s “blast” against the World Sikh Organization is best understood against that background as he gets ready to return to India for a new posting.

But why did it take him over four years to travel from Vancouver to Williams Lake where nearly 20 percent of the people are from India? And then to meet with only 15 people?

He was obviously stung by Joe Clark’s recent statement that the World Sikh Organization is “committed to peace and nonviolence”. That’s a complete runabout from our previous dubbing as a “terrorist group”. We demanded that Clark produce just one piece of evidence that any one of our thousands of members were ever convicted of any terrorist act anywhere in the world —— and he couldn’t do it. Neither can Sharma nor anyone else in the world simply because there is no truth to the slur against us. We are indeed committed to peace, nonviolence and an independent state of Khalistan where Sikhs can live in peace and dignity freed from the brutal oppression of the government of India?

Mr. Sharma chants the familiar misinformation that only a small number of “vociferous and aggressive” Sikhs want Khalistan. That might have been true before the government of India’s massacre of Sikhs at the Golden Temple in 1984, but certainly no longer. But let’s assume he’s right. In that case, why doesn’t India allow a plebiscite in Punjab as Canada did in Quebec? Why not allow open trials with due process instead of the thousands of Sikhs now in Punjab jails who have never even been charged, much less convicted, of any crime? Why Amnesty International and other Human Rights groups are banned from investigating human rights violations against Sikhs in India?

Perhaps it is for the same reasons India never allowed a plebiscite in Kashmir leaving a trail of broken promises to the United Nations and the people of that country which they now illegally occupy. The same is true for Goa which Indian armies invaded and “liberated”. An international investigation of human rights violations against Sikhs in Punjab would show that despite all its preaching’s and moralizing, India is the South Africa of Asia.

The Indian consulate insists that if we are a peaceful organization, we should hand over to them our membership lists to prove it. Strange logic. But we are prepared to consider doing even that. All we would want is verifiable guarantees that human rights are upheld for Sikhs in Punjab according to the U.N. Declaration. Let them simply guarantee that and we will surely consider giving them our membership lists. That way we have some hope that our member’s relatives will not be victimized and jailed as they now are.

To support the opinion that the Indian consulate is also a peaceful organization, perhaps they will make available to W.S.O. a list of Indian paid agent provocateurs now operating, excluding of course, those who have already been expelled from Canada.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 8, 1988