Lawmaker calls attacks on Hindu temples in Canada as ‘hate crimes’

Published on Sep 23, 2022 11:09 AM IST

Chandra Arya was referring to the recent vandalisation of a BPAS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, urging all levels of the government to note this and take remedial actions now

The Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (REUTERS/FILE)
The Canadian flag flies in front of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (REUTERS/FILE)

TORONTO: An MP belonging to the ruling Liberal Party caucus has described recent attacks on Hindu temples in the country as “hate crimes”.

According to a transcript of a speech made in parliament, Chandra Arya, MP from Nepean in Ontario, urged “all levels of the government to note this and take remedial actions now”.

He was referring to the recent vandalisation of a BPAS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, after a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) this July, was defaced. In both instance, pro-Khalistan slogans were painted and the vandalisation promoted on social media by pro-Pakistan handles.

Arya made these remarks while speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday. He stressed that “Hindu-Canadians are legitimately concerned about rising Hinduphobia in Canada”.

“The increasingly vocal and well-organised anti-India and anti-Hindu groups in Canada has resulted in increasing anti-Hindu sentiments,” he added.

The pitch of such rhetoric has risen in recent days as the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) held a non-binding “Punjab Referendum” in the GTA town of Brampton on Sunday.

Arya said these “recent attacks” must be “condemned by all as hate crimes.”

The outrages were both raised by the Indian government with Ottawa, through note verbales, official diplomatic communiques from India’s High Commission to Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry.

India had also formally expressed its displeasure to Canada over its territory being used for a separatist referendum, voting for which was held on September 18. It conveyed its concern over a public building being utilised for that purpose. The venue for the “referendum” was the Gore Meadows Community Centre, also in Brampton.

That issue was addressed by the Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday, as he told reporters in New Delhi that India finds it “deeply objectionable that politically motivated exercises by extremist elements are allowed to take place in a friendly country”.

In its response to New Delhi, Global Affairs Canada had reiterated that the Canadian government will not recognise the results of any such referendum. “The Government of India will continue to press the Government of Canada on this matter,” Bagchi added.

Different phases of the referendum were held in the UK, Switzerland and Italy. However, Canada is expected to be the group’s show of strength, as other phases will be held subsequently in Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Surrey.

The Indian government is concerned that SFJ is being allowed to operate an anti-India campaign so blatantly in Canada. A senior Indian official said, “We want Canada to proscribe them (SFJ). That’s a standing demand, reiterated almost every month.”

However, SFJ had held a series of events promoting the referendum, including a car rally, which attracted between 250 and 300 vehicles, on September 11, as well as a protest outside India’s consulate in Toronto on September 16.

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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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