TORONTO: Top Canadian politicians, including many of Indian descent, have slammed a video released by pro-Khalistan Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) group asking Hindus of Indian-origin to leave the country, stating that the community is "welcome" and "safe" in the country.
However, except Hindu-Canadian Liberal MP Chandra Arya, most remained silent on naming SFJ, the terrorist group banned by India in 2019, and its leader, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, who is seen in the video threatening the Hindus.
"Every Canadian deserves to live without fear and feel welcomed in their community," Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday.
He added: "In recent days, we have seen hateful comments targeting Hindus in Canada. Conservatives condemn these comments against our Hindu neighbours and friends. Hindus have made invaluable contributions to every part of our country and will always be welcome here".
"To Hindu Canadians and Indians from all backgrounds: Anyone who says you do not deserve to be safe & welcomed in your home does not embody the values of freedom & kindness we hold dear as Canadians. Do not let others delegitimise or question your place and love for Canada," Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of Emergency Preparedness, said.
"As Hindu Canadians, our home is here. Our Canadian society is diverse and inclusive and we must hold those values close to our hearts day in and day out," President of Treasury Board and former defence minister, Anita, Anand, wrote on X.
The offensive video, which now has been deleted, came just after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused New Delhi of involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, resulting in tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats.
Released early this week, Pannun, who faces 22 criminal cases in Punjab, can be heard saying in the 45-second video clip: "Indo-Canadian Hindus, you have repudiated your allegiance to Canada and Canadian constitution. Your destination is India. Leave Canada, go to India".
Designated as a terrorist in India, Pannun has been holding referendums in Canada, calling for an independent homeland for Sikhs. The next referendum is scheduled to be held on October 29 in Surrey.
However, condemnation of the video by Jagmeet Singh, NDP's Indian-origin Sikh leader who is seen as a Khalistani supporter, took many social media users by surprise with many asking whether his account was "hacked".
In a post shared on X, Jagmeet wrote: "To Hindus across Canada... This is your home and you deserve to be here. Anyone that suggests otherwise does not reflect the values of inclusion, compassion and kindness we hold close as Canadians".
After Trudeau's accusations against the Indian government, Jagmeet pledged to seek justice for Nijjar.
Sharing a long post slamming the video, Karnataka-born Arya was the only leader to name SFJ and Pannu and spoke about the Khalistan movement in Canada.
"Few days back Khalistan movement leader in Canada and the president of Sikhs for Justice which organised the so-called referendum Gurpatwant Singh Pannun attacked Hindu-Canadians asking us to leave Canada and go back to India," Arya said in a video message shared on X on Thursday.
He said that the "Khalistan movement leader is trying to provoke the Hindu-Canadians to react and divide the Hindu and Sikh communities in Canada".
Members of the Hindu community started coming to Canada 100 years ago. The community has people who migrated from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Southeast Asia and even Africa.
According to Statistics Canada, as reported in the 2021 Census, Hindus rose from 1.0 per cent to 2.3 per cent (close to 830,000 people) of total Canadian population from 2001 to 2021.