Independence Day celebrations held at India’s missions in Canada

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Independence Day celebrations were held at India’s missions in Canada, with a protest by pro-Khalistan elements taking place outside the Consulate in Vancouver.

While visibly enhanced security measures were in place, several protestors gathered outside the Consulate on Tuesday afternoon, and an Indian flag was set ablaze. However, there were no disruptions to the celebrations at the Consulate, including the traditional flag hoisting ceremony, which had taken place earlier in the morning.

There was also little impact in Ottawa or in front of the Consulate in Toronto, even as many of the diaspora community gathered at the venues.

India’s envoys in Canada were also provided with personal security amid the recent protests by Khalistani groups ahead of Independence Day.

Official celebrations were held in Calgary in the province of Alberta for the first time, with India’s Consul General in Vancouver Manish flying there for the event. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith joined the celebrations and addressed a gathering of the Indo-Canadian community.

This was the first time official Independence Day celebrations were held in Calgary. Joining the event was Premier (the equivalent of Chief Minister) of Alberta Danielle Smith.

In a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described India as “a key partner for Canada in the promotion of our shared values of democracy, pluralism, and progress.”

“We are committed to building on this rich history of collaboration, including under India’s presidency of the G20 this year. Looking ahead, as Canada strengthens its presence in the region under its Indo-Pacific Strategy, we will continue to work together to preserve the rules-based international order, promote multilateralism, and grow our economic ties to benefit people in both our countries as well as the region at large,” it said.

Canada’s minister of foreign affairs Mélanie Joly also took to Twitter to send her greetings. She said: “Canada and India’s relationship is based on strong and longstanding ties between our people and our shared interests on the world stage.”

Her cabinet colleague Anita Anand, president of the treasury board said, “As we sing Jana Gana Mana like my mom always did, we recognize and honour the many contributions of Indo-Canadians to our communities.”

Meanwhile, over a hundred protestors gathered outside the Consulate in Vancouver, carrying Khalistan flags, and raised slogans blaming India for the “assassination” of Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18.

Pro-Khalistan elements in Canada have been campaigning against India’s senior-most diplomats in the province of British Columbia.

In July, violence had erupted during an anti-India rally by pro-Khalistani elements outside the Indian consulate in Toronto, who circulated ‘Kill India’ posters targeting Indian diplomats in Canada.

Earlier this month, the latest series of posters, with the word ‘Wanted’, were placed at various locations in the town of Surrey.

In the recent, the protesting Khalistani groups once again carried the ‘Wanted’ posters. The series of posters referred to the killing of Hardeep ‘Nijjar, the secessionist group Sikhs For Justice’s (SFJ) principal figure in British Columbia.

Nijjar was killed in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Singh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey on June 18. SFJ has blamed India for his alleged “assassination”.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team or Investigation Team or IHIT, which is probing the killing, has not ascribed any motive while it seeks the murderers.

SFJ general counsel Gurpatwant Pannun has stressed the posters did not seek violence against the Indian diplomats but, along with the protests, were “to highlight the assassination.”