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Banned I.S.Y.F. Still Listed in Three Sikh Community Directories
By KIM BOLAN
CanWest News Service, Vancouver, Jun. 20, 2006
A Sikh terrorist group banned by the Canadian government three years ago is still shown in three B.C. business directories with both a postal box and phone number listing, The Vancouver Sun has learned.
Police and government officials said Tuesday they were surprised that the International Sikh Youth Federation [I.S.Y.F.] was still publishing its contact information, despite being a prohibited terrorist group.
Directory publishers told The Sun it was an oversight and that no one from law enforcement ever contacted them about publishing the I.S.Y.F. details.
The I.S.Y.F. - which had B.C. members convicted of the 1986 attempted murder of a visiting Punjabi cabinet minister [Malkiat Singh Sidhu] - is listed in the Apna Directory, 2005-2006 edition, the 2005-2006 Indo-Canadian Business Pages, and the 2006 issue of the Link Directory. In each, it is listed under the heading of Places of Worship and Societies in B.C.
In the Indo-Canadian and Link directories, the federation has the same Surrey post office box and telephone number, which is also the residence listing for Jagtar Singh Sandhu. Sandhu is a former temple leader who was the president of the I.S.Y.F.'s national chapter for years before it was banned.
The Apna Directory lists the federation at a different Surrey address with the current phone number of the Chardhi Kala newspaper. The Punjabi weekly was founded by I.S.Y.F. members but is now run as a private business.
The I.S.Y.F. agitated for years for a separate Sikh nation to be carved out of India's Punjab state because of the Indian army's assault on the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine, in June 1984.
Philip McLinton, of the federal Department of Public Safety, said he could not comment on why a banned terrorist group could still advertise as a current organization in widely circulated community directories.
'The whole issue of the listing and who should follow up on listings and who is checking on these things, again, we are going to have to defer that to the R.C.M.P.,' McLinton said.
But McLinton confirmed that there has never been a criminal charge laid in connection with the terrorist list since it was first created in 2002. The I.S.Y.F. and terrorist Babbar Khalsa, whose leader masterminded the Air India bombing, were put on the list on June 18, 2003. The most recent edition to the official terrorist list is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [L.T.T.E.], which was added in April.
'It is our understanding that under the provisions of the Criminal Code, no charges have been laid at this time in connection with any of the listed entities,' McLinton said.
Just this week, the federal government took out ads in newspapers across Canada to warn the Tamil community about the two-month-old ban on the Tigers.
'As set out in full in the Criminal Code of Canada, it is an offence to knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group,' the ad said. 'The listing of the L.T.T.E. is meant to support the Tamil community of Canada, which consists of hard-working people who have left their country of origin to build a better life for themselves and their families in Canada.'
McLinton said the ads were taken out as part of an educational campaign to let the Tamil community know about the addition and to reassure the law-abiding majority that it was not being targeted.
He said there is no departmental record of similar ads about other banned groups being bought.
Cpl. Tom Seaman, R.C.M.P. media liaison officer for B.C., said the information about the I.S.Y.F. listing would be forwarded to the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team [I.N.S.E.T.].
'That is surprising,' he said. 'The R.C.M.P. I.N.S.E.T. will certainly follow up on that information.'
Rakesh Puri, general manger of The Link, said no one noticed the fact that contact information was still in the directory for a banned terrorist group.
'We will make sure that next year it won't be published. We will delete it from the database.'
Rakesh Gupta, of the Indo-Canadian Business Pages, also said he would ensure it is not published in future, though the next edition of the directory is currently at the printers.