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India Lodges Formal Objection to Khalistan Slogans at Canadian Event with PM Trudeau

The Indian government on Monday conveyed its profound disquiet and severe objection regarding the vocalization of ‘Khalistan’ slogans during a public gathering in Canada, which was attended by notable Canadian political figures. India emphasized that such actions pose not only a risk to bilateral ties but also threaten to cultivate an environment of violence and unlawful activity within Canada itself, adversely affecting Canadian society.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) released an official statement detailing its concerns: “The Government of India’s deep concern and strong protest was conveyed at such disturbing actions being allowed to continue unchecked at the event. This illustrates once again the political space that has been given in Canada to separatism, extremism and violence. Their continued expressions not only impact India-Canada relations but also encourage a climate of violence and criminality in Canada to the detriment of its own citizens.”

In response to the incident, the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs to discuss the Indian government’s concerns.

“The Canadian Deputy High Commissioner was today summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs with regard to the raising of separatist slogans on ‘Khalistan’ at an event which was being personally addressed by the Prime Minister of Canada,” stated the MEA.

During the Khalsa Day Celebrations in Toronto, where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and opposition leader Pierre Poilievre were in attendance, there were loud chants supporting Khalistan. This has stirred considerable controversy and is part of an unfolding diplomatic crisis between Canada and India.

In June 2023, the relationship between the two nations was strained further when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implicated Indian government agents in the assassination of Canadian Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The Government of India has vehemently refuted these claims, rejecting them as unfounded and politically driven.

Nijjar was shot dead as he exited a Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, after being designated a terrorist by India’s National Investigation Agency in 2020. His murder, which came to light through a video showing the armed attack, has been labelled as a ‘contract killing’.

As Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau approached the podium for his speech at the Khalsa Day event, the chants for Khalistan visibly intensified, an occurrence captured on video by Canada-based CPAC TV. The pro-Khalistan slogans also resounded when Pierre Poilievre took to the stage. The event drew thousands and is one of Toronto’s most significant annual gatherings.

The Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwaras Council (OSGC) stated that Vaisakhi, also known as Khalsa Day, is a commemoration of the establishment of the Sikh community in 1699 and the Sikh New Year. Their parade along Lake Shore Boulevard is dubbed as the third-largest in the country, attracting numerous spectators, as reported by CBC News.

In a firm declaration to the Sikh community, Prime Minister Trudeau expressed that his government is committed to safeguarding their rights and freedoms. He highlighted that Canada’s diversity is a major asset, asserting that the nation is fortified by its diversity.

“One of Canada’s greatest strengths is its diversity. We are strong not in spite of our differences, but because of our differences; but even as we look at these differences, we have to remember, and get reminded on days such as this, and every day, that Sikh values are Canadian values…” Trudeau remarked at the Khalsa Day Celebrations.

He continued, “To the nearly 800,000 Canadians of Sikh heritage across this country, we will always be there to protect your rights and your freedoms, and we will always defend your community against hatred and discrimination.”

Trudeau further noted the government’s efforts to improve security, particularly around community centers and places of worship, including Gurdwaras. He assured the Sikh community that their right to freely practice their faith, as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, would always be staunchly defended.