Canadian authorities have launched an investigation into potential threats against Air India after online videos surfaced, featuring the leader of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) warning people not to travel on the airline starting November 19. In videos posted this month, the SJF’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannun called on the Sikh community to boycott Air India.
“We are going to target India, from Air India to ‘Made in India,’ we are going to ground everything,” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said in the video. On Thursday, Canadian Transportation Minister Pablo Rodriguez said that the country takes “every threat seriously, especially when it concerns airlines.” “Our government takes any threat to aviation extremely seriously. We are investigating recent threats circulating online closely and with our security partners. We will do everything necessary to keep Canadians safe,” Rodriguez wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
On Thursday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India has raised the issue of “terrorist threats” with Canada. “We strongly condemn such terrorist threats. We have been engaged with foreign governments on the activities of radical and terrorist elements that have been inciting violence and intimidation of our leadership, of our diplomats,” he said during a weekly press conference.
“We will continue to press these governments to deny space to such extremist elements,” he added. Bagchi’s answer came in response to a question from CNN News 18 whether India has raised the issue with Canada and the US. This threat is reminiscent of the 1985 terror attack when Canada witnessed its deadliest terrorist incident. An Air India flight, traveling from Toronto to London, crashed over the Atlantic Ocean following an onboard bomb explosion. The tragedy claimed the lives of all 329 individuals on board, including 280 Canadians.
Gurpatwant Pannun’s warning cannot be taken lightly, according to top Indian intelligence sources. “We have alerted all counterparts in major cities where Air India is flying to take extra precautions. This is a matter of great concern that Pannun is roaming freely across the globe and no country is taking action against him,” top intelligence sources told the press. The sources said although Pannun is not capable of doing “anything substantial”, he is “radicalising youth without any motive against India”.