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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating serious collision in Surrey

Incident happend May 6 at King George Boulevard and 128th Street

Surrey Fire Service firefighters quickly contained a fire on 75A Avenue. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Surrey firefighters extinguish second house fire in Newton

Second fire incident reported in Newton Sunday morning

Surrey RCMP are investigating two ‘suspicious’ fires in Newton Sunday morning. (Shane MacKichan photos)
(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Vancouver Giants celebrated a Justin Sourdif goal Saturday night in Kamloops. Giants dropped a 3-1 decision to Kamloops, a game that clinched the 2020-21 B.C. Division banner for the Blazers. (Allen Douglas/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop 3-1 decision to Kamloops

Third-period rally should have come sooner, said coach of Langley-based team

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Most Read