Canada: Pro-Khalistan elements organise anti-India campaign in British Columbia

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Toronto: Ahead of their threat to besiege Indian missions in the country on Independence Day, pro-Khalistan elements in Canada continued their poster campaign against India’s senior-most diplomats in the province of British Columbia.

The latest series of posters, with the word ‘Wanted’, were placed at various locations in the town of Surrey. As with the ‘Kill India’ posters earlier, videos of the posters being placed at various locations were circulated on social media on Monday, and were amplified by what appeared to be either Pakistan-based or pro-Pakistan handles, many of them created in recent days.

The latest batch of posters referred to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice’s (SFJ) principal figure in British Columbia. Nijjar was murdered in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Singh Gurdwara Sahib he headed in Surrey on June 18. SFJ has blamed India for his “assassination”. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team or Investigation Team (IHIT), which is probing the killing, has not ascribed any motive while it seeks the murderers.

Several similar posters had appeared at various locations in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) last month, prior to SFJ conducting the latest round of the so-called Khalistan Referendum in a gurdwara in the area on July 16. Local municipal authorities, including those from the city of Brampton had stated those posters had been illegally put up.

Maninder Gill, president of the Surrey, BC-based Friends of Canada and India Foundation, said his organisation “strongly condemned” the posters and added the city should not allow them to be displayed as they violated municipal bylaws.

As with the previous campaign, the new posters have appeared before SFJ’s organises its next referendum in September in Surrey.

These posters again target Indian diplomats in Canada: High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma and the consul generals in Vancouver and Toronto. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had raised the issue of the security of Indian diplomats when he met Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly on the margins of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Jakarta in July.

Joly had reiterated Ottawa’s commitment to the security of the envoy, tweeting Canada “takes very seriously its obligations under the Vienna Convention on the safety of diplomats.”