India concerned over threats to its officials in Canada ahead of Khalistani rally | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India concerned over threats to its officials in Canada ahead of Khalistani rally

Jul 03, 2023 10:37 AM IST

A senior Indian official said concerns about their security and other personnel have been communicated informally to the Global Affairs Canada & the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

India has expressed its concerns to the Canadian authorities about escalation of threats to its officials in the country where posters are being circulated for a rally that directly identifies its high commissioner in Ottawa and consulate general in Toronto.

According to the poster, the Khalistan freedom rally will be organised on July 8. (Representative file image)
According to the poster, the Khalistan freedom rally will be organised on July 8. (Representative file image)

According to the poster, the Khalistan freedom rally will be organised on July 8. It is being held in the name of Harjit Singh Nijjar, the pro-Khalistan priest who was found murdered in the parking lot of a gurdwara in the town of Surrey in British Columbia on June 18.

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The poster also carries threats to India’s high commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma and consulate general in Toronto Apoorva Srivastava.

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A senior Indian official said concerns about their security and other personnel have been communicated informally to the Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which is tasked with diplomatic security, and the Ottawa and Toronto police departments.

Following the long weekend for Canada Day, they will be formally informed of the heightened concerns.

Speaking to HT, Verma said, “In the garb of freedom of expression, they are attempting to cause harm to foreign envoys, which may not be the intention of Canadian law and constitution, under which such rights are provided.”

He added that each right is accompanied with obligations to maintain peace and harmony.

The murder of Nijjar, who headed the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib and was with the separatist Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), has witnessed pro-Khalistan elements accusing India of being behind the killing.

SFJ’s legal counsel Gurpatwant Pannun described it as an “assassination.”

However, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), investigating the killing, has not ascribed any motive.

Nijjar was alleged to be the head of the Khalistan Tiger Force by Indian law enforcement and faced several terror-related charges.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had announced an award of 10 lakh for information leading to his capture.

However, none of the charges against him were tested in Canadian courts and SFJ has maintained it does not use violence.

An Indian official stressed that Canadian authorities have been “receptive” to their concerns and “collaborate closely” when it comes to securing diplomatic premises.

However, on March 23, pro-Khalistan agitators, protesting the hunt for Waris de Punjab chief Amritpal Singh, who was absconding at that time, breached the security perimeter to the high commission in Ottawa.

His brother-in-law has been named as the main suspect in that episode by NIA and that incident is being probed by Ottawa Police.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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