The Wire legitimises pro-Khalistani propaganda in Canada under the garb of ‘free speech’

'The Wire' legitimises pro-Khalistani propaganda in Canada under the garb of 'free speech'

The Founding Editor of The Wire, Siddharth Vardarajan, courted controversy on 20th September this year after he tried to rationalise anti-India Khalistani activities in Canada as ‘free speech.’ He also lent credence to the unfounded accusations by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against the Indian government.

While speaking to the Senior Editor of the leftist propaganda outlet, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, he claimed that the Canadian government displayed a high level of sensitivity by alleging India’s involvement in the murder of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil.

At about 6 minutes 30 seconds into the programme, Vardarajan remarked, “Canadian Prime Minister has made serious allegations against India and shared the evidence with US President Joe Biden and the leaders of Australia, Britain and France…The Canadian government has raised the issue with a lot of sensitivity.”

He further added, “We have to understand that Canada is raising the issue with utmost sensitivity, seriousness and a sense of responsibility. We cannot dismiss this as a casual remark. This was well-thought-out (move by Canada).”

At the very onset, it became clear that Siddharth Vardarajan was hell-bent on legitimising the accusations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against the Modi government. This was despite the fact that the Canadian government did not provide any credible evidence so far to back its claims.

In fact, British Columbia Premier David Eby has gone on record to say that briefings provided to him by CSIS (Canadian Intelligence Agency) about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar were ‘open source’ and based on material available on the internet.

This did not stop Justin Trudeau from jeopardising bilateral relations and kicking off a diplomatic standoff by brazenly accusing the Indian government of carrying out murders on its soil. Interestingly, The Wire’s Founding Editor found this very move by the Canadian Prime Minister as ‘sensitive and responsible.’

Arfa Khanum Sherwani also claimed that it was a responsible decision on the part of the Canadian government. “Justin Trudeau wanted to treat the issue seriously. This is why he displayed a sense of responsibility by raising the matter in the Parliament,” she emphasised.

Siddharth Vardarajan justifies diplomatic blunder of Justin Trudeau

At about 9 minutes into the programme, Vardarajan attempted to rationalise the decision of Justin Trudeau to create a spectacle in public. On September 19, the Canadian Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons and accused the Indian government of killing Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

“Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” he had said.

In his speech, Trudeau mentioned that the basis of his accusations against the Indian government was ‘credible allegations’ and not concrete proof. To add to it, he downplayed the criminal background of the slain Khalistani terrorist by labelling him as a mere ‘Canadian citizen.’

Interestingly, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was granted Canadian citizenship in 2007 despite his involvement in immigration fraud and open allegiance to the cause of secession and terrorism.

Nonetheless, Siddharth Vardarajan came to the rescue of Justin Trudeau by claiming that he first flagged the matter to the Indian government behind closed doors. “Instead of making a public spectacle, Trudeau first tried to raise the matter privately,” he alleged.

The Founding Editor of The Wire insinuated that the Modi government did not cooperate with the Canadian government, which somehow forced Justin Trudeau to take the drastic step of raising the issue in the House of Commons.

“The most possible reason behind Trudeau raising this issue is because he did not get assistance from the government that he wanted…” he was heard saying.

It must be mentioned that the Canadian government has so far not provided any specific proof, which could remotely point fingers at India’s role in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

In fact, Justin Trudeau is now facing the heat from Canadian media, which has been insisting the government to share evidence in the public domain. But, Vardarajan conveniently ignored the facts of the matter to justify the diplomatic blunder of the ‘liberal’ Canadian Prime Minister.

The Wire backs Canada’s claims of ‘foreign interference by India’

Siddharth Vardarajan also suggested that Canada was somehow shoved into a corner by the Indian government, which forced it to make unfounded allegations against India in public.

While dubbing it as an issue of national security for the North American nation, he claimed, “If someone comes to your country and targets your citizen, then, you cannot tolerate it. Even India does not tolerate it.”

“This is why Trudeau felt compelled to raise the issue and make Canadians aware of the situation. As such, the matter has now come to light and the media is reporting on it,” he added.

The Founding Editor of The Wire also said that India has become increasingly important to the West and as such, countries such as the US and UK won’t push the country on the issue of Canada.

“This will give space for India to shrug off the allegations,” Vardarajan said, insinuating that there might be some truth in the claims of Justin Trudeau about India’s supposed involvement in the murder of Nijjar.

In fact, the only political leader who has been actively interfering in India’s internal affairs and policy-making is Justin Trudeau. In December 2020, he came out in support of anti-farm law protests in India, despite it being the domestic issue of the Indian government.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t start also by recognizing the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning. And we all are very worried about family and friends; I know that’s a reality for many of you,” Trudeau had said back then.

“Let me remind you, Canada will always be ready to defend the right to peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we reached out to multiple means directly to Indian authorities to highlight our concerns,” he had remarked.

This was despite the fact that the anti-farm law protestors had caused economic loss to the tune of ₹70000 crores

Siddharth Vardarajan negates Khalistani appeasement by Justin Trudeau

The propaganda artist also dismissed the role of internal politics of Justin Trudeau in raking up the issue of the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

“If we talk about internal politics, the general elections in Canada took place in 2021. Trudeau is in his second term as a PM. His government will run till 2026. To say that Trudeau raised this issue in 2023 due to internal politics has no weight,” he claimed.

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While it is true that Canada’s federal election took place in 2021, it must be mentioned that the Modi government snubbed Trudeau during his visit to India in 2018 (about 3 years before the election). The diplomatic ‘snub’ was the manifestation of his long-standing appeasement of anti-India Khalistani elements.

Faced with tough competition from New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, a pro-Khalistani politician, Trudeau doubled down on his appeasement of Khalistanis in Canada.

Although the next federal election is slated for 2025, his continued pandering to such anti-India forces for vote bank politics could not be ignored.

For Siddharth Vardarajan to suggest otherwise and discount the internal politics of Canada in Trudeau’s latest diplomatic blunder is a well-thought attempt to distance the Canadian Prime Minister and the growing menace of anti-India, Khalistani forces under his watch.

The Wire rationalises anti-India activities by citing ‘free speech’

The Wire’s Founding Editor was seen justifying the inaction of the Canadian government against Khalistani separatists, residing in the country.

At about 13 minutes into the programme, he was heard saying, “There is a political understanding in Canada regarding freedom of speech and human rights. It is different in India. The understanding of the Indian government is different. ”

“This is the political culture of Canada…If the Indian government is telling Canada to silence pro-Khalistani elements or stop their activities, how can the Canadian government agree to it? Canada cannot act against them as per their internal policies” he brazened it out.

In order to substantiate his claims, Siddharth Vardarajan alleged that anyone could demand the secession of Quebec province from Canada and that the individual would not be booked/ prosecuted for sedition or anti-national activities.

Screengrab of the 1970 report by The New York Times

He presented Canada as a land of ‘absolute’ free speech, where demands to break apart the country are neither condemned nor punished. Vardarajan pointed out how it was not the same in a country such as India.

As a matter of fact, the separatists in Quebec were crushed with an iron fist by the Canadian government in 1970s. The then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who happens to be the father of Justin Trudeau, had even invoked wartime emergency powers to mitigate the threats of separatism.

Those demanding and fighting for the independence of Quebec were dubbed ‘nationalist terrorists’ and promptly arrested by the government. Unlike the wild assertions made by Siddharth Vardarajan about ‘free speech’, separatist activities and attempts at undermining sovereignty received no leniency in Canada.

Justin Trudeau, who extended his support for anti-farm law protests in India, was quick to curb the protest by truckers against the ‘undemocratic’ Covid-19 policies of Justin Trudeau. As such, there is no absolute freedom of speech in Canada, as alleged by The Wire’s Founding Editor.

The Founding Editor of The Wire claimed that the Canadian government could only act against Khalistanis, if they were involved in crime.”Yes, if these individuals are involved in criminal activity such as terrorism, then, the Indian government can expect Canada to act against them” he said.

He claimed that the Indian government had only highlighted non-criminal activities such as anti-India statements and activities. There is nothing further from the truth.

The Modi govt has repeatedly raised concerns about vandalism of Hindu temples by Khalistani extremists in Canada. India has sought the extradition of Khalistanis such as Hardeep Singh Nijjar for their involvement in terrorist activities.

The government also flagged security concerns after Khalistani extremists in Canada threatened to assassinate Indian diplomats. Despite this, the Canadian government took no action against such elements.

Justin Trudeau even went as far as downplaying the criminal record of Hardeep Singh Nijjar by presenting him as just a random Canadian citizen. In fact, that is a legacy that he inherited from his father Pierre Trudeau, who had unabashedly shielded ‘Kanishka bombing’ mastermind Talwinder Parmar.

As such, the claim by Siddharth Vardarajan that the Canadian government will act only if Khalistanis are involved in criminal behaviour is untrue. India has apprised Canada of the criminal antecedents of Khalistanis but to no avail.

It is for the Canadian government to now decide whether they want to maintain good ties with the world’s 5th largest economy. Justin Trudeau cannot be an alliance partner of India if he continues supporting anti-India forces for vote bank politics in Canada.

The Wire downplays Khalistani extremism in India and Canada

Towards the end of the programme, Siddharth Vardarajan was seen downplaying the menace of growing Khalistani extremism, both in India and Canada.

He even went on to suggest that Canadian Sikhs organising a referendum for the secession of the State of Punjab from the Union of India was not a big deal.

The senior Editor of The Wire, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, also claimed that the Indian government was somehow exaggerating the situation and creating a big fuss out of it.

She also alleged that there is ‘no issue’ of Khalistan in India, while conveniently forgetting the anti-Hindu attacks in the State of Punjab and the mass mobilisation of the supporters of now-arrested Amritpal Singh.

Not to forget the pro-Khalistani slogans raised at Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar on the 38th anniversary of Operation Blue Star. V

Vardarajan also ignored all of it and claimed that there was no resurgence of the Khalistani movement in India for the past 10-15 years.

“Calling Khalistanis terrorists and pressuring the Canadian government to extradite them to India won’t work,” the propaganda artist was heard saying.

Footnotes:

This article was first published in OpIndia on September 25, 2023