India expresses concerns over threat to citizens in Canada

The Indian High Commission in Ottawa raise the issue of safety of Indian citizens in Canada after multiple reports that Indo-Canadians were threatened for pro-India actions, perceived to be critical of the ongoing protests against the farm laws passed by New Delhi
Indian diaspora in Vancouver, Canada, holds a 'Tiranga Yatra' against violence on Republic Day in Delhi. (ANI)
Indian diaspora in Vancouver, Canada, holds a 'Tiranga Yatra' against violence on Republic Day in Delhi. (ANI)
Published on Feb 16, 2021 12:05 PM IST
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India’s High Commission in Ottawa has raised the issue of safety of Indian citizens, including international students, with Canadian authorities after multiple reports of members of the Indo-Canadian community being threatened and intimidated for actions perceived to be pro-India or critical of the ongoing protests against the contentious farm laws passed by the Indian Parliament.

In an outreach message to the diaspora in Canada, India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Ajay Bisaria wrote: “We are also concerned at reports that Indian citizen and friends of India who have expressed their views in support of the farm reforms in India have been targeted and subjected to intimidation, threats of violence and calls to boycott or disrupt their business.”

Reports of threats, including violence and rape, against Indo-Canadians were received from the Greater Toronto Area, Metro Vancouver, Calgary and Vancouver. This development, which has created a climate of fear within the larger community, was first reported by the Hindustan Times. 28 Indo-Canadian organisations have raised the issue with Canada’s public safety and emergency preparedness minister Bill Blair in a letter, but have yet to receive a response from him or his office, HT had reported.

Bisaria told members of the community that “in the event that any Indian national is subjected to any such threats of violence or intimidation, they should report the matter, with all details to the local police, and also bring it to our immediate attention”.

He also asserted “that a flood of misinformation, blatant lies and distortions being circulated about some recent developments in India” and the “increase in rhetoric promoting violence in India” is “aimed at defaming and harming the image of India and Indians as well as to sow distrust and promote hatred between different communities of Indian origin in Canada”.

Several prominent Canadian politicians have raised the matter of the protests against farm laws in India, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, much to the chagrin of the Indian Government.

The Poetic Justice Foundation, the group allegedly responsible for creating the infamous toolkit being investigated by Indian law enforcement, is based in Vancouver and one of its founders, Mo Dhaliwal, participated in a blockade of the Indian Consulate in Vancouver on Republic Day. According to an unverified video, Dhaliwal also made a pro-Khalistan speech outside the premises.

Bisaria called on the diaspora to “encourage Indian citizens, friends of India and the Canadian public to remain vigilant against such attempts and not be swayed by false narratives and sophistry”.

“The Indian diaspora in Canada is a reflection of the diversity and plurality of India. For the continued welfare of the community, it is essential to maintain unity and amity between the different communities. The community must come together and work as one for this cause and not be influenced by forces that promote hatred and seek to divide it. All voices of the community should be equally respected and valued,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    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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