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May 16, 2023

Listen: 'Real Khalistanis in Canada are Few. Indian Govt Should Ignore Them, but Is Thin Skinned'

Former Canada health minister Ujjal Dosanjh recounts the circumstances in which he joined politics and the violence he had to suffer for drawing attention to rising extremism in the Sikh community.

When Ujjal Dosanjh was a lawyer in Vancouver, he was once beaten up badly. His skull was seriously injured and he had to get more than 80 stitches.

The assault on him was in response to his consistent opposition to rising extremism in the Sikh community and his appeals to the Canadian government to do take note of it. “Even after the bombing of the Air India plane in 1985 in which over 300 passengers, Canadian citizens, were killed, the government did nothing,” he tells Sidharth Bhatia in this podcast discussion.

But he insists that there is hardly any popular support for Khalistan. The few who are Khalistan extremists are, “Those in the diaspora who are not integrated into Canadian society.”

Dosanjh then joined politics and in 2000, was elected by his party to be the premier of the province of British Columbia, the first in Canadian history. Four years later, he became the health minister of the federal government.

It was the high point for a migrant who had left his village in Punjab, unable to even speak English, but with a determination to study.

Dosanjh comes to India regularly, and says at “heart he is still an Indian.”

He says he is pained to see what is happening here. “The images of India that reach me are about lynchings, murders of scholars, the agitation against CAA and NRC. I saw how the police went into Jamia Milia. All this in Gandhi’s land,” he says.

“No one can agree on their heroes. Some worship Gandhi, others Godse,” he adds.

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