Canada: Pro-Khalistan groups stage protests near Indian consulates in Toronto, Vancouver

Toronto: A day after attempting to disrupt an event featuring India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa in Surrey, pro-Khalistan groups staged protests in front of the Indian consulates in Toronto and Vancouver on Saturday but with little impact.

Pro-Khalistani groups protesting outside the Indian consulate in Toronto, Canada, in July last year. (HT photo)

The so-called Khalistan Car Rally in each city was to protest the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia last year. Nijjar was deemed a terrorist in India.

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As both consulates were closed for the weekend, there was no impact on operations. Protesters were also prevented from coming close to either of the buildings where the consulates are housed in the two cities. Police cordoned the buildings off, placed barricades and kept the protesters at a distance. For instance, in Toronto, they were restricted to protesting from across the avenue. “Protesters seemed frustrated with the police,” a senior Indian official said.

The protests were called by the separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), for whom Nijjar was the principal organiser in the province of British Columbia. SFJ said the protests were “dedicated to avenge the assassination” of Nijjar.

On Friday evening, as High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma addressed and interacted with the Surrey Board of Trade at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in the town where Nijjar was killed. SFJ described the town as a “war zone” and has said it will continue to target Verma.

However, the Surrey detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) blocked all entrances to the venue and at times, confronted protesters who attempted to enter the building leading to fiery exchanges. While organisers claimed there were nearly 500 protesters at the venue, the outlet CBC News reported there were only 70 and 80 present.

Verma later described that event as “well organised” and “well attended”. His speech to the SBOT, led by its CEO Anita Huberman covered trade, investment, innovation, startups, research and development, among other topics.

Unlock a world of Benefits with HT! From insightful newsletters to real-time news alerts and a personalized news feed – it’s all here, just a click away! – Login Now! Get Latest World News along with Latest News from India at Hindustan Times. ABOUT THE AUTHOR author-default-90x90

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. …view detail

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