Canadian diaspora concerned over suspension of mobile internet in Punjab
Chandigarh, March 19 (IANS) Diaspora in Canada is concerned over the recent development in Punjab regarding the suspension of SMS and mobile internet services, except the voice call, in the interest of public safety as the police launched action against 'Waris Punjab De' chief and Khalistan ideologue Amritpal Singh and his aides.
"I am receiving calls from my residents and am deeply concerned about reports coming out of Punjab, India regarding SMS and internet blackouts," tweeted Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Brampton South, on Sunday.
"I hope the situation is resolved soon & Canadians travelling to the region are able to connect with their families and friends in Canada."
Joining the issue, Iqwinder S. Gaheer, MP for Mississauga-Malton, tweeted: "I am troubled by what I am hearing from constituents and the reports coming out of Punjab, India: authorities have enacted the mass suspension of internet services and are preventing gatherings of more than 4."
"Civil rights and liberties should be maintained in a democracy."
Calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government to immediately contact their Indian counterparts to express concern regarding the suspension of civil liberties and the safety of Canadians abroad, Jagmeet Singh, Leader of Canada's New Democratic Party, tweeted: "I am deeply concerned by reports that India has suspended civil liberties and imposed an internet blackout throughout the state of Punjab."
Replying to him, one user wrote: "What a hypocrite you are! You're concerned about suspended civil liberties and an internet blackout in Punjab but you say nothing about it happening in Canada."
Another user think Jagmeet Singh is being disrespectful. "Draconian measures were when truckers' protests were crushed in Canada. Jagmeet Singh ji you supported the crushing of a democratic, peaceful movement by @JustinTrudeau now you want him to go feral over the suspension of mobile texts (home internet working fine) in Punjab!"
"If u are so concerned about Punjab then come to India, Punjab. It's easy to pass judgement sitting in another corner and where you actually don't know what's happening," another user wrote.
"Human rights are the basis of any democracy," said charity United Sikhs. "The Indian state is setting up its own records for violating #HumanRights in every possible way to oppress the Sikhs in India. Why is there a mass atrocity of human rights violation against Sikhs in India? What are the grounds for Amritpal's arrest?"
Meanwhile, the massive police search operation continued on the second day on Sunday to arrest Sikh radical Amritpal Singh, head of 'Waris Punjab De'.
Jalandhar Police Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Chahal told the media that Amritpal Singh was declared a 'fugitive'.
The police search operations are now mainly focused in Jalandhar district from where he managed to given the police a slip when it tried to intercept his vehicle to arrest him.
Amritpal's father Tarsem Singh told the media the police should have arrested him before he left the house. "We don't have any information about his whereabouts. They carried out a search at our residence for 3-4 hours but did not find anything illegal."
He called the police action "unjustified" and said his son was weaning the youth off drugs. "Why the police were not acting against criminals and those involved in drugs," he asked.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Chahal said Amritpal's six gunmen were nabbed. "A manhunt for Amritpal Singh is on and we are hopeful that he will be arrested soon. A total of 78 people have been arrested so far and further searches and raids are underway," he added.
"During the state-wide operation, nine weapons, including one .315 bore rifle, seven rifles of 12 bore, one revolver and 373 live cartridges of different caliber have been recovered so far," the police said in a statement on Twitter on Saturday evening.
"Waris Punjab De elements are involved in four criminal cases relating to spreading disharmony among classes, attempt to murder, attack on police persons and creating obstructions in the lawful discharge of duties of public servants. FIR stands registered for the attack on Ajnala Police Station," it added.