TORONTO: Pro-Khalistan secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has announced to hold the Khalistan Referendum on September 18 this year in Canada's Toronto, a city known for hosting one of the largest and most diverse Sikh diasporas. While Indian premier Narendra Modi's government expresses concerns over the incumbent Canadian government giving space to pro-Khalistan sovereignists, the advocacy group SFJ announced to kickstart the Canadian phase of Khalistan Referendum on September 18 from Toronto, Ontario. The Canadian Sikhs will vote on the question “Should Indian governed Punjab be an independent country?”
The Khalistan Referendum voting centre in Toronto is named after “Shaheed Harjinder Singh Pahra” to honour the young pro-Khalistan Sikh who went back to India from Canada to participate in the then ongoing armed struggle for Khalistan in the wake of Indian Army’s June 1984 attack on the Golden Temple. In a staged police encounter, Indian forces extra-judicially killed Pahra in 1988 and tens of thousands of Sikh youths related to the martyred Sikh. Terming September 18 voting as “Journey From Khalistan Rocket To Referendum”, well-known Sikh leader and SFJ General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun stated that the “ballot is the most potent weapon of this century through which we will balkanise India and liberate our beloved Punjab to honour our gurus”. In a press conference heavily attended by journalists and news channels here, the SFJ released the map of the areas earmarked for secession from India through Khalistan. Declaring Shimla as the future Capital of Sikh homeland Khalistan, the SFJ’s map encompasses the areas of pre-1966 Punjab which includes Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Sikh majority areas of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The referendum will be held in different phases during which the polling will take place across the country, including cities of Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Surrey, the SFJ said. The voting in the global Khalistan Referendum is being held under the supervision of Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC) www.punjabreferendumcommission.org, a panel of world-renowned non-aligned experts on independence referendums and direct democracy. Since the launch of voting on October 31, 2021 from London, despite India’s protests, the governments of UK, Switzerland and Italy have allowed the Khalistan Referendum to take place in which 400,000+ Sikhs have so far voted. The referendum events in the various European cities have seen tens of thousands of Sikhs coming out to vote while raising slogans in unison for the creation of an independent state of Khalistan for millions of Sikhs from around the world.