Indo-Canadian MP seeks action over depiction of Indira Gandhi’s assassination

Jun 09, 2023 09:42 AM IST

In a tweet on Thursday, Chandra Arya, the MP, said Khalistan supporters in Canada have reached new low with the despicable float that depicted the assassination

An Indo-Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) from the ruling Liberal Party has called for action over the depiction of the assassination of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at an event in Canada’s Greater Toronto Area, stressing that supporters of Khalistan “have crossed a line”.

Indo-Canadian Member of Parliament Chandra Arya. (Twitter)
Indo-Canadian Member of Parliament Chandra Arya. (Twitter)

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In a tweet on Thursday, Chandra Arya, the MP, said, “Khalistan supporters in Canada have reached new low with a despicable float [depicting the assassination] in a recent Brampton parade.” He added the float celebrated the assassination with her cutout in a white saree soaked in blood and cutouts of her bodyguard turned killers brandishing and pointing guns. “This is not what our country Canada stands for. Tolerating glorification of violence and public promotion of hate goes against everything our country believes in. Khalistan supporters have crossed a line and Canada should and must respond.”

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The float depicted the assassination as “revenge” for Operation Bluestar, the military action Indira Gandhi ordered in 1984 to flush out separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale and his supporters from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. Other tableaux at the event featured posters of Bhindranwale and sparked anger and outrage in India.

On Thursday, external affairs minister S Jaishankar cautioned the Canadian government that the activities of Khalistani elements and violent extremists on their territory could impact bilateral relations and have security implications.

Jaishankar said the float is linked to the bigger issue of the “space that Canada has continuously” provided to Khalistani elements.

The remarks came after India’s high commission in Ottawa sent a note to Canada’s foreign ministry on Wednesday expressing displeasure over the float.

An Indian official described the depiction as “not acceptable”. “You cannot exceed freedom of expression like this, glorifying the assassination of the leader of a democratic nation.” The message conveyed to Canada was that such a development cannot be allowed to recur.

Indo-Canadian organisations also expressed outrage. The National Alliance of Indo-Canadians tweeted, “Why celebrate violence in Canada?” The Overseas Friends of India Canada tweeted it was “appalled by this glorification of extremism and violence.”

Brampton municipal authorities granted permission for the parade, which was also a build-up towards the next phase of secessionist group Sikhs for Justice’s so-called Punjab Referendum in the Greater Toronto Area in July, before moving to Vancouver in September.

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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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