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Sikh-Edmontonians highlight human rights concerns over India's Punjab crackdown

Protesters gather in front of Alberta's legislature raising awareness about human rights abuses in India's Punjab state (CTV News Edmonton/John Hanson). Protesters gather in front of Alberta's legislature raising awareness about human rights abuses in India's Punjab state (CTV News Edmonton/John Hanson).
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Some members of Edmonton's Sikh community hosted a car rally through the city and then a march to the legislature grounds Saturday to raise awareness about human rights violations in India.

Motorists gathered at Mill Woods Town Centre and travelled west on 23 Avenue to Gateway Boulevard, where they proceeded north towards Kinsmen. From there, the demonstrators marched to the legislature holding signs and flags demanding action from the Indian government within the state of Punjab.

Last month, authorities there restricted communications and the size of gatherings as the search for Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh continues. According to international media reports, he recently led a violent storming of a police station.

"We are here because of the human rights violations happening in the Punjab," said organizer Gurnoor Singh. "We are here protesting to actually tell them what human rights are and what they are violating.

"Imagine in Alberta, Wifi gets cut, and there's no voice around the world to hear it," Singh added. "Everyone has rights."

Last Monday, Tim Uppal Edmonton Mill Woods MP, was one of several parliamentarians across party lines who voiced concerns about the Indian government's actions.

"As Canadian members of Parliament, we're trying to ensure that there is some safety for Canadians who are visiting there," Uppal said, who is also the deputy Conservative leader.

"We raised this as a concern. And the response was quite harsh — a number of threats in there as well, and by people who have a very large following."

Singh said he was proud to use his voice to raise awareness of what is happening to Sikhs in India.

"I'm not suppressed," Singh added. "I have freedom of speech right now. I can talk here."

"If I was in India right now, I would be probably arrested right now." 

With files from The Canadian Press

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