The Ottawa-based think tank Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) has said that a civil defamation lawsuit filed against it by the separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a “meritless attempt to silence public debate”.
The reaction came after SFJ filed a complaint with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice over the institute’s report ‘Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan’, claiming it was a “malicious attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Referendum 2020 and to threaten SFJ’s viability as a not-for-profit organisation”.
The report was authored by Terry Milewski, a former journalist with national broadcaster CBC. “MLI and Mr. Milewski stand by the article, and have every confidence that they will be successful in the litigation,” a statement issued by MLI said, as cited by the daily National Post. Milewski has not commented on the matter.
“MLI’s report is defamatory, malicious, misleading… feeds into a narrative that is being propagated by the government of India. Contrary to MLI’s allegations, Khalistan Referendum is a gross root initiative led by Sikh sovereigntists,” SFJ’s general counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said in a statement.
In an interview with Hindustan Times at the time the report was released, Milewski had said his objective behind bringing out the report at this time was because of the Punjab Referendum 2020, which was originally scheduled for November this year but had been postponed to next year. That referendum is being organized by SFJ.
Milewski had pointed out that election results in India have clearly shown that Khalistan has little popular support, and even within the community in Canada, the vast majority will not participate in the process.
However, that will ensure the results are skewed totally in favour of those that actually support Khalistan. “The problem is, it’s a referendum of the people that support the referendum,” he said.
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