Canadian officials have confirmed they’re investigating an alleged “threat” against Air India, as a video circulating online advises Sikh travellers to avoid the airline as of Nov. 19.
Federal Transportation Minister Pablo Rodriguez posted on social media Thursday that the government is investigating the alleged threat with its security partners.
“Our government takes any threat to aviation extremely seriously,” he wrote. “We will do everything necessary to keep Canadians safe.”
Contacted by CTV News, an RCMP spokesperson said she could not provide any further details, but said authorities are also working with industry stakeholders to address any potential concerns.
The online video was posted by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an advocate for an independent Sikh state known as Khalistan, who has denied the message is a threat.
In an interview with CTV News this week, Pannun said the video urging Sikhs to “avoid boarding” Air India flights beginning on Nov. 19 and referencing a “global blockade” was part of a boycott campaign urging Sikhs not to support Indian businesses.
“There is no threat of violence,” he said.
“I’m informing and educating and making the global Sikh community aware, every dollar which you spend on (an) Indian business, whether it’s here or in India, it is going to strengthen their economy, it is going to give them more power.”
Pannun, who lives in Washington, D.C., helped organize the unofficial referendums on Khalistani independence that were held in the Metro Vancouver municipality of Surrey in September and October.
Media organizations in India – where Pannun has been labelled a terrorist due to his views – have characterized his video as a threat to travellers.
Diplomatic relations between Canada and India have fraught since Primer Minister Justin Trudeau suggested “agents of the Indian government” may have been involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, another Khalistan advocate.
Nijjar was the president of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, and was gunned down in the parking lot of the Surrey property on June 18.
With files from CTV News’ Abigail Turner and Mel Nagy