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While Canada claims they won’t accept promotion of violence, Khalistani extremists freely glorify Indian PM Indira Gandhi’s assassination in the North American country

Canadian claims are under scrutiny as the Canadian government has repeatedly failed to address the issue of criminals, extremist groups and terrorist organisations operating from its territory.

In a recent parade in Brampton, Ontario, on 6th June, a float depicting former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination has sparked international outrage. The float graphically reenacted the murder of the former PM of India by her bodyguards. The float was part of a parade organised by radical Khalistani supporters who want a separate independent Khalistan to be carved out of India. Both Indian and Canadian officials have sharply reacted to the parade and the tensions between the two countries have further heightened following the diplomatic stand-off last year.

Canada’s High Commissioner to India Cameron MacKay strongly condemned the float. He said, “This week, there were reports of imagery depicting the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Vancouver. The promotion of violence is never acceptable in Canada.” While Canada tried to show that the government is committed to maintaining peace and preventing the spread of extremist ideologies, the reality is entirely different.

Reacting to media query about the float, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said, “As you are aware, we have repeatedly raised our strong concerns regarding the violent imagery being used by extremist elements in Canada against our political leadership. Last year, a float depicting the assassination of our former Prime Minister was used in a procession. Display of posters of Indian diplomats have also been put out across Canada threatening violence against them. Celebration and glorification of violence should not be a part of any civilized society. Democratic countries which respect the rule of law should not allow intimidation by radical elements in the name of freedom of expression. We continue to remain concerned about the security of our diplomatic representatives in Canada and expect the Government of Canada to ensure that they are able to carry out their responsibilities without fear. We again call upon the Government of Canada to stop providing criminal and secessionist elements a safe haven and political space in Canada.”

Historical context of the Indira Gandhi float

The controversy that has erupted with the float is deeply rooted in the history of Operation Blue Star. It was a military exercise that was initiated in June 1984 to remove Khalistani terrorists from Shri Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara, Amritsar. Though the terrorists were neutralised, the operation at the Sikh holy place resulted in widespread anger within the Sikh community leading to the assassination of Indira Gandhi, who was Prime Minister at that time. Indira Gandhi was killed on 31st October 1984.

The parade at Brampton, which was organised by Khalistani supporters, included a blood-stained depiction of Gandhi. Notably, it is not an isolated incident and such floats have appeared in similar parades in the past. While freedom of speech and expression is a protected right in Canada, such incidents test the limits of freedom especially when such incidents incite hatred and glorify violence.

Canada has a diverse population and its government claims that its aim is to maintain harmony among different ethnic groups. However, the claims are under scrutiny as the Canadian government has repeatedly failed to address the issue of criminals, extremist groups and terrorist organisations operating from its territory. Despite official condemnations from the Canadian authorities, the frequency of such incidents suggests that there is a lack of proactive measures. Canadian government appears to be in favour of Khalistani supporters as they are the ruling party’s voters.

The celebration of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in Canada by Khalistani supporters is a reminder that Canada needs to act swiftly against incidents that promote violence. So far, the Canadian government has failed to act on India’s inputs about criminals and terrorists using its soil for illicit activities. Instead of acting on India’s inputs, Canada has openly accused India of killing Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil.

Canada has to work with India to address the issues raised by the latter and ensure that freedom of expression does not become a cover for hate and violence. Canada needs to show respect to the world’s largest democracy and understand that it is to its benefit to maintain the delicate balance of ensuring internal harmony while respecting international relationships.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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