Pro-Khalistan protesters raise slogans at Indian High Commissioner in Canada

They tried to disrupt the event, but did not succeed, says envoy Sanjay Kumar Verma

March 13, 2024 12:07 am | Updated 02:36 am IST - NEW DELHI

A diplomatic parking sign is pictured at the High Commission of India in Ottawa.

A diplomatic parking sign is pictured at the High Commission of India in Ottawa. | Photo Credit: AFP

At least 80 pro-Khalistan protesters raised derogatory slogans when Indian High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma attended an event organised by the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) in Edmonton on March 11.

The event had earlier gained prominence after Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun called for the Khalistan sympathisers to “challenge, target and question” the Indian envoy over the alleged Indian involvement in the murder of Sikh preacher Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, in June 2023.

The March 11 event saw several protesters shouting slogans targeting the Indian envoy and the Indian state while a protester was seen defiling the Indian Tricolour.

“Pro-Khalistan elements tried to disrupt the event, but did not succeed,” Mr. Verma told The Hindu after the event. 

Earlier, Mr. Pannun’s network of sympathisers had spread a poster opposing the March 11 event. The poster campaign that restarted after a lull of few weeks once again revived the memories of the bitter moments of 2023 when sustained campaign by the Khalistani elements in Canada – that called for violent attacks against Indian diplomats – had prompted India to shut down the consular services in the Indian High Commission in Ottawa temporarily as India had feared for the safety of the Indian envoy. 

It was learnt that in response to the poster campaign, Canadian authorities had stationed law enforcement officials at the venue who secured the route for the Indian High Commissioner and his spouse.

‘Event a success’

The event was a success, said organiser Ravi Prakash Singh, Chair of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (Alberta).

“This is one of the most successful events of ICCC and we had really good attendance from all big business leaders, dignitaries and political figures of Edmonton. Our role as ICCC is to bring the business community together and I personally tried to explain it to my friends who were protesting outside for the past five to six days that our event is non-political, non-religious, and we talk purely about business and trade between India and Canada,” said Mr. Singh, while speaking to The Hindu from Canada. 

Earlier, Mr. Verma met with trade representatives in Surrey where the protesters tried to disrupt the meeting.

India had restarted the e-visa facilities for Canadian citizens after the temporary pause of last year and the Khalistan issue has emerged as a major issue between the two sides. 

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