- Toronto rocked after Hindu temple attacked.
- Sikh activists protest outside Indian HC in Toronto.
- Indo-Canadian man charged with criminal mischief for vandalism.
TORONTO: Tensions in Canada within the Indian community are at the knife’s edge after BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto was vandalised with anti-Indian and pro-Khalistan slogans written at the entrance ahead of the 18 September Khalistan Referendum voting which is set to attract tens of thousands of Sikhs.
The Indian government has condemned the vandalism at the Mandir, calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action against the suspected Khalistani activists.
“We strongly condemn defacing of BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir Toronto with anti-India graffiti. Have requested Canadian authorities to investigate the incident and take prompt action on perpetrators,” the Indian High Commission tweeted.
The vandalism incident comes after the local police announced it has arrested an Indo-Canadian man for tearing Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale's banner in the city of Caledon, Ontario, ahead of the 18 September Khalistan Referendum.
Thirty-eight years after he was killed in ‘Operation Blue Star’ in Amritsar, India, nationalist Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale is regarded as a martyr, saint and icon of the Khalistan movement by tens of millions of Sikhs. It’s believed that tensions in the Indian community in Canada have gone up after Sikhs protested the attack on the revered Sikh leader.
Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), the organisation behind the Khalistan Referendum campaign, has plastered the city of Malton, Ontario, with posters of Khalistan carrying large-sized pictures of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to whom Khalistan Referendum’s Canadian phases have been dedicated to.
The SFJ has not commented on the spate of attacks but local Sikh campaigners have branded this a hate crime against Sikhs and their movement.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) confirmed that it has charged an Indo-Canadian man with criminal mischief for vandalism.
Following the vandalism, over 500 Sikh activists gathered outside the Indian consulate in Toronto and raised slogans against the Indian government and in favour of Khalistan.
Sikh activists, carrying Khalistan banners, called on the Indian authorities to stop politics of division and accept the demands of Sikhs.
On Monday, the local Sikhs gathered in huge numbers at the local Gurdwara to offer collective prayers for the success of the Khalistan Referendum.