In at least three places in North America the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders have been forced to cancel their interactive programmes due to opposition from Punjabis settled overseas. The latest show to be cancelled was in Abbotsford near Vancouver where, among others, Punjab Minister, Sikandar Singh Maluka was to participate.
Seeing the volatile situation, the Canadian Police cancelled the event. They feared a clash since a very large number of people who had gathered wanted to voice their concerns to the Akali delegation.
An almost similar situation had developed in Toronto, where too the police had to intervene. In New York, some local Sikhs who resented the visit, threw stones and perhaps one of them even a shoe at the Akali leaders. Among the participants in these two places was the Punjab Minister of NRI Affairs, Tota Singh.
While I feel that it would have been better if true democratic traditions had been followed and these leaders were allowed to say what they wanted. The people overseas could have questioned them hard at the interactions. But, perhaps the anger of the people is so much that they don’t tolerate the sight of some of these people. What the Akali leaders don’t realise is that in many ways their policies in Punjab are to blame.
What Punjab has seen in the name of development in the last eight or nine years is just a sham administration. Also, the SAD-BJP Government has pretended to be oblivious to the human rights issues that bother people abroad. NRIs problems, especially relating to their properties remains unaddressed. Since NRIs are exposed to democratic traditions abroad, they resent the manner in which government assets have been usurped by people with influence. Besides, the Akali leaders are also facing hostility because of certain irresponsible statements that they have been making.
Tota Singh had stated that only people who have nothing else to do (“velar”) take to the facebook. After cancellation of Abbotsford rally, Maluka made another irresponsible statement wherein he criticised the Canadian Police for not dealing with a handful of protesters and in the process praised the Punjab Police. Apparently, he wanted the Canadian Police to beat up the protesters the way Punjab Police does! Such are the gems that the SAD has sent abroad.