A Sikh advocacy group says the government of India has blocked a Canadian website that aims to raise funds for COVID-19 patients in India. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bikas Das

A Sikh advocacy group says the government of India has blocked a Canadian website that aims to raise funds for COVID-19 patients in India. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bikas Das

Sikh advocacy group says India blocked Canadian website to fund COVID-19 patients

Lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of Sikhs For Justice says it launched the website Tuesday to connect Indian patients with donations to buy liquid oxygen

A Sikh advocacy group says the government of India has blocked a Canadian website that aims to raise funds for COVID-19 patients abroad.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer for Sikhs For Justice, said it launched a website Tuesday to connect patients in four Indian states with donations to buy liquid oxygen.

“Economically poor and economically downtrodden Indians do not have enough money to buy oxygen for their families and for the patients,” Pannun said.

Oxygen cylinders have seen drastic markups amid a supply shortage as the pandemic ravages the country.

“A $2 cylinder, they are selling it at $30, a 1,500 per cent increase, even though the dead bodies are piling up,” he said.

A screenshot provided by the group, which has chapters in Toronto, New York City and London, shows a computer unable to connect with the server of the new site, OxygenFund.org.

Pannun saidonly the Indian government has the authority to bar access to the web page, which he says received more than 60 applicants in the first 24 hours followed by thousands of WhatsApp calls since the site went off-line in India.

India’s government did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

With the web page unavailable there, the organization has been swamped with WhatsApp calls over the last few days, largely from the states of Maharashtra and West Bengal.

“We have thousands of missed calls. Thousands. It’s ringing non-stop,” Pannun said, noting Sikhs For Justice has four people working “around the clock” to answer queries.

The group launched another site Thursday, Oxygen4Punjab.org, which was blocked again within hours, he said.

Anshuman Gaur, India’s deputy high commissioner to Canada, says his government has labelled Sikhs For Justice a terrorist group, but could not comment on whether the state blocked its site.

“They are banned,” he said in a phone interview.

The international organization, which advocates for an independent Sikh state and promotes humanitarian aid, was labelled “unlawful” in 2019 by the Indian government led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Last year, the government posted a short list of Sikh organizations and individuals it deems to be “terrorists.” The list included Pannun, who has dismissed the designation as a reaction to his peaceful advocacy for an independent Sikh state.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusIndia

Just Posted

COVID-19 virus (file photo).
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Mill Bay Thrifty Foods

Employee tested positive, last worked on May 8

The former St. Joseph’s School converted to the St. Joseph’s Art Studios in 2019. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Former Chemainus St. Joseph’s School site sold to addictions recovery group

Diocese stresses the importance of a community outreach option in its decision

The Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society and Mosaic Forest Management are teaming up to create more trails in the Cowichan Lake area. (File photo)
Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers and Mosaic partner to build new trails

Non-motorized recreational trails to be built on 1,000 hectares of forest land

Madison Holman displays a cat stuffie she received from her school while awaiting surgery at BC Children’s Hospital. (Submitted)
GoFundMe set up for Duncan girl following cancer diagnosis

Madison Holman, 11, was rushed to Vancouver for emergency surgery

Capitals’ Kahlil Fontana blueliner evades Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ Ethan Hersant during second-period B.C. Hockey League Island Division action at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Susan Quinn/Black Press Media)
Cowichan Capitals go out with a bang

Caps finish BCHL season strong with 6-1 thumping of Clippers

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Discarded construction materials make up nearly 40 per cent of all materials sent to the landfill from sources in the city of Victoria. (Zero Waste Victoria)
Victoria looks to curb waste by turning demolitions into deconstructions

Community drafting bylaw forcing developers to be better at salvage and recycling

Emergency service workers at the collision scene along Highway 4 in Hilliers on Sunday, May 16. A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital by BC Air Ambulance and later died. (Collin C photo)
UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies from injuries sustained in Mid-Island highway collision

BC Highway Patrol says impairment not a contributing factor in crash

Most Read