Pro-Khalistan posters target diplomats over chief Nijjar’s killing

The posters call for pro-Khalistan sympathisers to assemble in Toronto to protest the killing of Nijjar

Pro-Khalistan posters target diplomats over chief Nijjar’s killing

The Ministry of External Affairs on July 4 summoned the High Commissioner of Canada Cameron MacKay and lodged a protest after campaigners for Khalistan put out posters targeting Indian diplomats in Canada. The top Canadian diplomat stationed in India was summoned after posters circulated online named two leading Indian diplomats stationed in Canada.

The posters called upon pro-Khalistan sympathisers to assemble in Toronto on July 8 in protest against the alleged killing of a leading campaigner for Khalistan, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The poster that carried the words “Kill India” also displayed the photographs of Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma and Consul General in Toronto Apoorva Srivastava and the words “Faces of Shaheed Nijjar’s Killers in Toronto”.

The posters spread across the world via the Internet, urging sympathisers of Khalistan to take out similar marches towards Indian missions in other major western cities on July 8. All such posters carried photographs of Indian diplomats in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. The posters for Australia and the U.S. carried the faces of Indian High Commissioner to Australia Manpreet Vohra and Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu. An attempt was made to set fire to the Indian mission in San Francisco on Monday. However, MEA did not summon any American official in response.

The Indian National Congress has condemned the incident and urged the Indian government to “take all steps necessary to protect Indian diplomatic missions and personnel”.

The incident regarding the controversial posters came less than a month after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar cautioned Canada about the risk of Khalistani extremism. “For us, how Canada has dealt with the Khalistani issue has been a long-standing concern. Because very frankly, they seem to be driven by vote bank politics,” he said while commenting on the increasing activities of the pro-Khalistan activists in Canada.

On June 5, Khalistani activists in Canada marked the anniversary of Operation Bluestar (1984) by taking out rallies. India had protested strongly in response after a float on this occasion featured the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “I think there is a larger underlying issue about the space which is given to separatists, to extremists, to people who advocate violence. I think it is not good for relationships, and not good for Canada,” Mr. Jaishankar said on June 8, while addressing a press conference to mark nine years of the Modi government.

Over the past few days, the “Kill India” posters have become viral online. These posters call for avenging the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar who was shot dead on the premises of a gurdwara on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia. Nijjar was the leader of the separatist Khalistan Tiger Force. He had earlier hit the headlines when his name featured on a list of wanted individuals that the then Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had handed over to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau during the latter’s 2018 India visit. It was alleged that Nijjar also visited Pakistan in 2013-2014.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly emphasised that the campaign against Indian diplomats does not speak for everyone in Canada and said, “Canada takes its obligations under the Vienna Conventions regarding the safety of diplomats very seriously. Canada remains in close contact with Indian officials in light of some of the promotional material circulating online regarding a protest planned for July 8th which are unacceptable.”

The pro-Khalistan protests have flared up frequently over the past few years in multiple locations like Melbourne, Toronto, London and San Francisco. When Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited India in March, Mr. Modi took up the issue of the growth of the Khalistan movement in Australia. The same flared up later that month in London where pro-Khalistan protesters tried to take down the tricolour from the Indian High Commission.

 


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