India warns its citizens against Canadian ‘hate crimes, sectarian violence’

The Indian government has issued a security advisory to its citizens and foreign students in Canada warning of what it describes as an increased risk of hate crime, sectarian violence and “anti-Indian activities.”

Indian citizens in Canada should “exercise caution and be vigilant,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

“The perpetrators of these crimes have not yet been brought to justice in Canada.”

The Indian government statement did not specify which specific incidents led to the warning, but the warning comes after a referendum last Sunday by Sikh separatists on the creation of a separate homeland.

According to reports, 100,000 people showed up in Brampton for the vote, which was held at the Gore Meadows Community Center and hosted by Sikhs for Justice, a group with offices in Washington, Toronto and London, England that is considered a banned terrorist group in India. .

A call to the central offices of Sikhs for Justice in Washington was not immediately answered.

Social media accounts have also drawn attention to: an incident at Toronto’s BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple, where pro-independence graffiti and anti-Indian slogans were sprayed on the walls.

On September 15, temple officials released a statement saying they were “shocked and saddened by anti-Indian graffiti at the gates” of the temple “by anti-social elements”.

“The BAPS Temple in Toronto, like all BAPS temples worldwide, is a abode of peace, harmony, equality, selfless service and universal Hindu values,” the statement said.

“We are grateful to the appropriate authorities, including the governments of India and Canada, for their continued support and sympathy.”

A temple worker told the Star that the police had been approached about the graffiti and were investigating.

Balpreet Singh, legal adviser and spokesperson for the World Sikh Organization of Canada, told the Star that the Indian government’s security advice was “completely political” and “frankly baseless”.

Although he was aware of the temple graffiti incident, which he said his organization condemned, Singh said it is not clear who was responsible.

“There is no other incident they can point to in terms of sectarian violence or anything,” he said.

“There is no Hindu target, no Indian target – nothing like that.”

Singh said the Indian government’s security warning was a manifestation of the country’s frustration with the ongoing referendums on the Sikhs, which are being organized by the US-based Punjab Referendum Commission and have so far been held in London, England. in Brescia, Italy and in Brampton.

The next vote will take place in New York, while voters in Calgary and Vancouver can vote at a later date.

“India demanded that this referendum not take place,” Singh said.

“India has consistently tried to marginalize and silence voices that support Khalistan. One of the topics of discussion that India has used is that this is a fringe movement that is not supported by the Sikh community and that those individuals who show up to Sikh parades or to gurudwaras…extremists and fringe.”

A spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Singh said the turnout in the referendum vote last weekend in Brampton showed strong support for the creation of an independent Sikh homeland. The results have not been released and will not be released until all votes have been cast and counted.

An anti-independence protester who was present in the Brampton Community Center, Devanshu Narang, went on to write in the Times of India that he “was intimidated, abused and verbally abused and that a lot of slander was thrown at me by passers-by … but the volunteers moderated them and asked them to allow me to continue protesting in peace.”

“The volunteers made sure that no one came near me and the moment the general public started to abuse me, they tried to intervene,” he wrote. “The volunteers even offered me langar food that they were eating and as they are also our brothers, though misguided, I thanked them for the same and ate while standing there.”

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