Resident is reportedly linked to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun who has been accused of making threats against India
Police in Ontario, Canada, are investigating a shooting at the house of a Sikh separatist activist who is linked to US-based pro-Khalistan movement leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Khalistan is a movement seeking to carve a separate state for Sikhs out of lands in India, and has been at the center of a diplomatic row between New Delhi, Ottawa and Washington in recent times.
According to an AFP report, on Monday police said they’d been alerted by construction workers about an apparent “bullet hole” in a window of the house of Inderjit Singh Gosal, who is believed to be “a close associate” of Pannun, who New Delhi has designated a “terrorist” and whose organization “Sikhs for Justice” is banned in the South Asian country.
“We understand who this person is and his affiliations, but it’s just too early for us to speculate that there’s any connection to other violence and threats,” AFP quoted a police official saying about the Gosal bullet-hole investigation. The outlet noted that no injuries were reported in the incident as the targeted building is under construction and currently vacant.
The attack comes days after shots were fired at Simranjeet Singh, another associate of Pannun. Two Canadian teens were later arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm. The most recent shooting comes in the wake of Gosal’s announcement of a rally this weekend at the Indian consulate in Toronto, The Guardian reported.
The Pro-Khalistan movement is active in both Canada and the US, as well as in the UK and several other countries with large Sikh populations. New Delhi has on many occasions raised concerns with its partners in the West over the “freedom” given to activists in their countries despite their alleged threats to public figures in India, including to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The country’s ties with Canada and the US encountered severe turbulence last year when the Canadian prime minister linked “Indian agents” to the killing in British Columbia last June of prominent Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, sparking a diplomatic rift, in particular between Ottawa and New Delhi. Two months later, a US court indictment alleged that an Indian government official was involved in an assassination attempt against Pannun that had been foiled by the FBI.
While New Delhi dismissed the Trudeau government’s allegations as “absurd” and “motivated,” and has demanded that Ottawa provide evidence, in the case of Pannun the Indian government had formed a high-level committee of investigation.