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

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Jane Long-Haggerty, a chartered accountant with a member of the Salvation Army Food Bank, hold up a cheque for $740. Long-Haggerty decided to cut her fees in half and ask her clients to donate whatever they felt they could to the food bank. The idea landed her a room full of food and $740 to the Salvation Army Food Bank. (Submitted)
Penticton accounting firm gives big return to food bank

Long-Haggerty said this year’s tax season showed how bad the pandemic has impacted everyone

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The manager and a worker at the Penticton Great Canadian Oil Exchange in front of the new sea-can. (Submitted)
Kelowna and Penticton oil recycling facilities get upgrades

The BC Used Oil Management Association provided grant funding for the upgrades

The SS Sicamous was decked out in poppies on Remembrance Day and lights at Christmas time. The Sicamous won’t be able to open again because of COVID restrictions. (Monique Tamminga - File photo)
The SS Sicamous was decked out in poppies on Remembrance Day and lights at Christmas time. The Sicamous won’t be able to open again because of COVID restrictions. (Monique Tamminga - File photo)
Penticton’s historic paddlewheeler likely won’t open for a second year

The SS Sicamous Society is getting lots of restoration work done during the closure

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The Maritime Kitchen Party is featured in the B-Side, the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre’s online series, May 13-16. (VDPAC photo)
B-Side keeps Okanagan musicians in Focus

Performing Arts Centre online concerts continue

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

The. B.C. Court of Appeal granted a retrial to former Vernon man William Schneider, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of Japanese exchange student Natsumi Kogawa. The trial is set to begin May 24, 2022. (Vancouver Police Department photo)
Retrial date set for former Okanagan man’s murder conviction

William Schneider’s trial, connected to the death of Natsumi Kogawa, is set for May 2022

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Most Read