For unspecified reasons, Canadian journalist and human rights activist, Sukhminder Singh, was denied an Indian visa to accompany Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on his trade mission to India and Pakistan in January. It is not known if he was also denied a Pakistani visa. Singh, a former radio and television personality from Ontario, is the managing editor of the Punjabi-language newspaper, Sanjh Savera Weekly.
Singh said that the government of India often boasts itself for being the world's largest democracy, yet it has no problem with arbitrarily denying a short-term visitor visa to a journalist. "Within a democratic process everyone must have a right to freedom of opinion and expression," Singh said. He called on McGuinty to review the human rights record of India prior to his visit and also reminded the premier that, just as Canada’s last two prime ministers recently questioned China on its human rights, India also needed to be held accountable.
During his 16 years as a radio producer and host, and 11 years of television broadcasting, Singh brought serious issues to light with his commentary and editorial style. Singh said he is also a human rights activist who frequently speaks out against the Indian government for its oppression of the Sikhs - specifically, on the 1984 Indian army attack on Darbar Sahib, the Delhi pogroms and the disappearances of tens of thousands of Sikhs in Punjab. He volunteers with World Sikh Organization of Canada and Ontario Khalsa Darbar on issues related to Sikh-Canadians. Singh said that India's denial of access to humanitarian agencies and journalists makes it clear that India has a serious and shameful problem with its human rights record.