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

Happy Mother’s Day on May 9th.
Millar Time

A mother’s moments

Jon Bonneschranz retired from the Prince Rupert Fire Rescue Department at the end of April after 22 years of service to the city. He was also one of three firefighters honoured with the department’s first life-saving award. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City – Jon Bonneschranz, fighting fish to fighting fires

Retiring Captain Jon Bonneschranz hangs up his helmet after 22 years

Sheila McDonald coordinator at the Prince Rupert Seniors’ Centre Association said on May 6th, the new fridge purchased with $5,000 from the BC Maritime Employers Association will help sustain the Better at Home Food Assistance program. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Seniors’ Centre Association chills out with $5,000 donation

BC Maritime Employers Association uses Seniors’ Centre for training purposes

A Prince Rupert man fled after being placed under arrest on April 28. The incident caused an elementary school and local residents to be warned to stay inside. (File photo)
Wanted Prince Rupert man flees after arrest – later apprehended

Local school and residents told to stay inside during pursuit of man wanted from 2019 gun incident

As the BC CDC reports on May 5 declining pandemic numbers and only one case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert, the vehicles parked outside the local testing center also decrease. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert COVID-19 numbers down again

Second outbreak at Acropolis declared over

(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’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

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

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

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read