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MP Ujjal Dosanjh accused of defamation

Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal MP for Vancouver South, is facing defamation charges for remarks he allegedly made at a press conference in India.

Avtar Singh, a 25-year-old Canadian citizen, filed the criminal complaint in an Indian court under the Indian penal code. He claims that during the press conference Dosanjh warned the Canadian government about second and third generation Sikh's because Sikh youth were propagating the principles of Khalistan, a movement to turn part of the Punjab region of India into a Sikh homeland called Khalistan. Dosanjh allegedly made the remarks at a press conference this fall held in India to promote a new documentary film about his political career.

Singh is backed by a group called Sikhs for Justice. "He has defamed the image of Sikh youths living in Canada and abroad by making comments of this kind," said Singh. "It's unfortunate that Dosanjh feels it's alright to vilify members of the Sikh community for the sake of publicity," stated Singh in a press release.

A spokesperson for Dosanjh said the MP would not comment on the allegations at this time and has no plans to make an official statement. Dosanjh reportedly told Postmedia News in September that the criticism he has faced because of his views on Khalistan are "hate propaganda" designed to end his political career.

Several defamation suits have been filed in B.C.'s Indo-Canadian community over this issue. Earlier this year, Harjit Atwal accused Maninder Gill, station manager for the Surrey-based Radio India, and later Surrey councillor Tom Gill, of allegedly making defamatory remarks. Maninder Gill told the Globe and Mail that Khalistan has been a religious and political divide this community for 25 years.

A court in Chandigarh, India, will hear Singh's case against Dosanjh on Dec. 10.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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