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Pro-Khalistan slogans raised at Justin Trudeau’s event, ‘Dissapointed’ India summons Canada diplomat

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Pro-Khalistan chants filled the air during a Khalsa parade in Toronto where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the attendees on the occasion of Khalsa Day. His rival Pierre Poilievre of the Conservative Party and Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party (NDP) also attended the rally.

As Trudeau delivered his speech, pro-Khalistani chants were heard throughout. “We have to remember and get reminded on days such as this and every day, that Sikh values are Canadian values. Truth, justice, openness, compassion, service, human rights. These are the values at the heart of Sikhism. These are the values of the heart of Sikh Canadian communities. But they’re also values at the heart of all Canadians,” Trudeau said as Khalistan Zindabad slogans were chanted.

The video of the rally went viral on social media. PM Justin Trudeau was also gifted a sword by the rally organisers.

In the video, Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre can also be seen taking a knee, as a mark of respect for the community. Jagmeet Singh delivered his speech in Punjabi.

“To the nearly 800,000 Canadians of Sikh heritage across this country, we will always be there to protect your rights and your freedoms, and we will always defend your community against hatred and discrimination,” he said.

He said that his government will enhance the security infrastructure program for more security at community centres and across all gurudwaras. “Your right to practise your religion freely and without intimidation is exactly that – a fundamental right, guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that we will always stand up and defend you for,” he further added.

Trudeau, who has upset India with allegations that Delhi was involved in the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar last year, also vowed to always protect the rights and freedoms of Sikhs in Canada and defend the community against hatred and discrimination. India has called the allegations of Nijjar’s killing “absurd” and “politically motivated”.

His comments drew much cheer at the event which is one of the largest annual gatherings of Sikhs in Canada. A raft of national leaders were also present with Trudeau, including his ally Jagmeet Singh, who heads the New Democratic Party, and leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre.

On Monday, India summoned the Canadian Deputy High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest over the pro-Khalistan slogans raised during a public event in Toronto in the presence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The event was also attended by Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre and Trudeau’s ruling coalition partner, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh.

The Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday, “The Canadian Deputy High Commissioner was today summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs with regard to the raising of separatist slogans on ‘Khalistan’ at an event which was being personally addressed by the Prime Minister of Canada.”

It said, “The government of India’s deep concern and strong protest was conveyed at such disturbing actions being allowed to continue unchecked at the event. This illustrates once again the political space that has been given in Canada to separatism, extremism and violence. Their continued expressions not only impact India-Canada relations but also encourage a climate of violence and criminality in Canada to the detriment of its own citizens.”

Diplomatic ties between Canada and India touched a new low last year after Trudeau claimed in Parliament that probe agencies were investigating “credible allegations” of a link between agents of the government of India and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The India-designated terrorist was shot dead by unknown assailants at a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia on 18 June last year.

India rejected the Canadian government’s allegations as “absurd and motivated”, and urged for “parity” in diplomatic representation, which led to Canada removing 41 diplomats and their dependents from the country.

The allegations made by Trudeau sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries that eventually saw the Indian government temporarily suspend visas from Canada due to threats to the security of diplomatic staff.

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