India takes up with Italy, Canada incidents outside missions in Rome, Vancouver

Published on Jan 27, 2021 07:36 PM IST

In Italy, unidentified persons painted the slogan “Khalistan Zindabad” on the facade of the Indian embassy in Rome and put up several pro-Khalistan flags and banners at the gate ahead of Republic Day.

India intends to formally complain to Global Affairs Canada (GAC), the country’s foreign ministry, over allowing the pre-planned blockade of the consulate in Vancouver by protestors ostensibly opposing the farm laws. (TWITTER)
India intends to formally complain to Global Affairs Canada (GAC), the country’s foreign ministry, over allowing the pre-planned blockade of the consulate in Vancouver by protestors ostensibly opposing the farm laws. (TWITTER)

India is taking up with foreign governments, including those of Canada and Italy, the actions of pro-Khalistan elements in events linked to the farmers’ protest over three farm laws, people familiar with developments said on Wednesday.

A sizeable group of protestors, including some carrying Khalistan flags and placards, converged on a veranda leading to the Indian consulate in Vancouver on Republic Day, and weren’t prevented by law enforcement from blocking the entrance.

In Italy, unidentified persons painted the slogan “Khalistan Zindabad” on the facade of the Indian embassy in Rome and put up several pro-Khalistan flags and banners at the gate ahead of Republic Day. The Indian side took up the incident with Italian authorities and conveyed its concerns, the people said.

India intends to formally complain to Global Affairs Canada (GAC), the country’s foreign ministry, over allowing the pre-planned blockade of the consulate in Vancouver by protestors ostensibly opposing the farm laws.

Protests will also be lodged with the provincial government of British Columbia, where Vancouver is located, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), responsible for security of diplomats and diplomatic premises. While Vancouver Police Department is responsible for law and order in the city, missions deal with local law enforcement through RCMP.

The people said they were incensed that the protestors in Vancouver were allowed to “violate the sanctity of diplomatic premises” and that they weren’t preventing from taking “direct action despite promises to the contrary”.

The presence of a person who recently threatened India’s consul general Manish among the protestors is of particular concern to Indian authorities. Also believed to be present was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, among the main Khalistani figures in Canada.

Plans for the blockade were announced in advance by the separatist Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). Despite the forewarning, lack of measures to prevent the obstruction has incensed Indian diplomats.

The flag unfurling ceremony to mark Republic Day was held early in the morning, but protestors arrived and blocked the building at 8.30 am and remained in front of it for several hours.

What disappointed Indian diplomats more is that the day had commenced on a positive note with a warm message from Canada’s new foreign minister Marc Garneau, which was shared on social media by his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar.

“On India’s Republic Day, we are reminded of the importance of strengthening current bonds as well as forging new ones in the years ahead,” Garneau said.

He said the “challenges of the past year show that the links between our countries continue to grow stronger” and that “India’s leadership in sustaining global supply chains of critical medical supplies and pharmaceuticals has proven to be invaluable, helping a great number of Canadians”.

The people cited above said India has been constantly raising its concerns about protests near the Indian embassy in Rome with Italian authorities and this was done again recently in view of Republic Day.

“Safety and security of Indian diplomats and diplomatic premises is the responsibility of the host government. We are hopeful the Italian authorities will take action against the perpetrators and prevent such incidents from happening in future,” said a person.

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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.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Rezaul H Laskar is the Foreign Affairs Editor at Hindustan Times. His interests include movies and music.

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