Gurpreet Singh Sahota: Punjab’s Airports Missing From New Disappointing Canada-India Air Transport Agreement
"Punjabis in Canada have been hoodwinked again, and this is only one part of a larger frustrating reality Punjabis in Canada face in trying to visit India."
Gurpreet Singh Sahota
November 17, 2022 | 2 min. read | Opinion
“Unlimited weekly flights between Canada and India are a significant move,” Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra shared in a tweet on Monday, announcing the new expanded Canada-India Air Transport Agreement.
Frequent flyers to India from Canada, predominantly to Punjab, rejoiced at first. Finally, it appeared that community advocacy around opening up flights to Amritsar and Chandigarh had brought results.
That was until Punjabis, like me, read the fine print of the announcement.
The press release on the announcement states towards the end that the “agreement gives Canadian air carriers access to Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, and Indian air carriers access to Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, and two additional points to be selected by India.”
Notably missing from the announcement is any mention of Punjab’s airports. That is unacceptable.
Member of Parliament for Brampton East, Maninder Sidhu, hailing from a riding with one of the highest densities of Sikhs and Punjabis in Canada, excitedly quote tweeted Minister Alghabra's announcement and added that “Brampton residents have been asking for more flights and options. Thanks to the advocacy of Minister Alghabra and so many MPs here in the GTA, we will now be able to go from a 35 weekly flight limit to unlimited weekly flights between Canada and India!”
MP Sidhu, like many others sharing the news, made sure not to make clear that the ask from Brampton residents, and those across Canada, is not for more flight options to places like Chennai and Bombay, but to Amritsar and Chandigarh.
The absence of a city like Amritsar has even garnered the attention of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which tweeted about the agreement earlier today, calling it “unfortunate” that the airport continues to be ignored to the dismay of Punjabis and Sikhs in Canada.
Punjabis in Canada have been hoodwinked again, and this is only one part of a larger frustrating reality Punjabis in Canada face in trying to visit India.
Why is India not supporting direct flights from Canada to Punjab?
Why is India not giving e-visas to Canadians, while doing so for other countries?
Why is taking Canadians four to six weeks to get a visa to India?
It is clear in speaking to individuals with knowledge of bilateral relations that India is punishing Canadian Sikhs and Punjabis for the massive support they gave to the successful Farmers’ Protest and, secondly, for the unprecedented support of the Khalistan Referendum in Canada as the travelling global vote made its way to the country over the last few weeks.
Indian government officials believe that making a handful of hollow announcements, and taking pictures with Sikhs, will make the diaspora happy. However, no one is buying their lollipops here except for their stooges.
Gurpreet Singh Sahota is a veteran journalist from Surrey, BC, Canada, writing about the issues impacting the global Sikh and Punjabi diaspora. He can be found on Twitter @gurpreetssahota or on Facebook at @SahotaJournalist.
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