India summons Canadian Deputy HC to protest pro-Khalistan slogans at Toronto event

New Delhi, April 29 (UNI) India on Monday strongly protested the raising of separatist pro-Khalistan slogans at a Sikh community event in Toronto attended by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and summoned the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner in that context.

The Canadian Deputy High Commissioner was today summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs office here and conveyed the Government of India’s “deep concern and strong protest at such disturbing actions being allowed to continue unchecked at the event”, a statement said.

The MEA said that the incident “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,” the MEA said.

The government’s move came hours after a video surfaced showing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressing hundreds of Sikhs in Toronto on the occasion of Khalsa Day on Sunday, even as some people from among the crowd were raising pro-Khalistan slogans in his presence.

Trudeau’s rival Conservative Party’s Pierre Poilievre and Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party (NDP) were also present on the stage. Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who attended the Khalsa Day celebration in Toronto.

In his speech, Trudeau promised to protect the rights and freedoms of the Sikh community. “The story of the Sikh community in Canada is, in fact, the story of Canada…To the nearly 800,000 Canadians of Sikh heritage across this country, we will always be there to protect your rights and your freedom; and we will always defend your community against hatred and discrimination.”

He also promised to enhance security at Gurdwaras by “adding more security at community centres and places of worship, including Gurdwaras”.

The latest development comes at a time when the diplomatic relations between the two nations are frosty over the killing of India-designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, outside a gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia, in June 2023.

The Canadian PM had sparked a controversy in September last year when he told the Canadian parliament that Canadian security agencies had been actively pursuing “credible allegations of a potential link” between agents of the Government of India and the killing of Nijjar.

India rejected the claims as “absurd and motivated.”

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