INTERNATIONAL

Pro-Khalistan protesters try to disrupt Indo-Canada business networking event

Toronto: India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma interacted with business leader in Edmonton, capital of the province of Alberta, as local law enforcement prevented pro-Khalistan supporters from disrupting the event.

Members of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) with India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma in Edmonton, Alberta province on Monday. (Credit: ICCC)

The networking event was organised by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) and it was targeted by the separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which had called for the protest. However, while nearly 200 invitees attended the event, among them was Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, a former Cabinet minister in the first government formed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015.

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In a statement, Verma said “the pro-Khalistan elements tried to disrupt the event, but they did not have any success”. The number of protesters outside the venue, the Evario Events Center, was approximately 80.

Given the threat perception, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), responsible for diplomatic security, along with the Edmonton Police Service blocked the protesters gathered outside from gaining entry to the venue or preventing the event from taking place.

Verma was escorted into the venue by a security detail, which also ensured he safely left the centre after the event concluded late on Monday evening.

SFJ had, in fact, issued flyers prior to the event identifying the organisers from ICCC. This included its Edmonton chapter chair Ravi Prakash Singh, who described the event as the “most successful” held by the chamber in Edmonton. Singh said the event was “non-political, non-religious” and “purely about business and trade between India and Canada”.

A similar attempt was made earlier this month as the Indian High Commissioner attended an event organised by the Surrey Board of Trade in the town on British Columbia on March 2.

SFJ’s general-counsel Gurpatwant Pannun has said pro-Khalistan elements will “continue to target Verma”. The protests are being held in connection with the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey on June 18 last year, which caused a rupture in the bilateral relationship after Trudeau stated in the House of Commons three months later there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the murder.

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