Historic Canadian temple becomes latest to be hit with anti-India graffiti

A Hindu temple was defaced by Khalistani activists in Brampton, Canada, promoting Indian consulate to seek action. Screengrab  (India Today / YouTube)
A Hindu temple was defaced by Khalistani activists in Brampton, Canada, promoting Indian consulate to seek action. Screengrab (India Today / YouTube)

A historic Hindu temple in Brampton, Canada, was spray-painted by Khalistani activists with anti-India slogans, prompting the Indian consulate to condemn the incident.

The Indian consulate general in Toronto said in a statement they condemned the “defacing of Gauri Shankar Mandir in Brampton, a symbol of Indian heritage, with anti-India graffiti”.

The consulate general added that “the hateful act of vandalism has deeply hurt the sentiments of the Indian community in Canada”.

Khalistan is a separatist movement by fringe groups demanding that an independent Sikh state be carved out of India.

The Canadian authorities have started an investigation into the incident.

Local reports alleged that the banned outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is involved in the incident. SFJ is a secessionist group that supports the secession of Punjab from India as a separate state named Khalistan.

Slogans such as “Khalistan Zindabad (Long Live the Khalistan movement) and Hindustan Murdabad (Death to India)” were found spray-painted on the outer wall of the historic Gauri Shankar Mandir in Brampton.

Three other temples in Canada have been graffitied over with apparently anti-India slogans since July last year.

Meanwhile, mayor of Brampton Patrick Brown also condemned the attack on the temple. “This hateful act of vandalism has no place in our City or Country. I have raised my concerns over this hate crime with @ChiefNish [Nishan Duraiappah, Chief of Peel Regional Police] and @PeelPolice,” he tweeted.

Mr Brown said that “everyone deserves to feel safe in their place of worship”.

Times Now reported that SFJ uploaded the video of the defacing on social media.

Chandra Arya, a member of parliament in Canada, also condemned the incident. He tweeted: “The attack of Gauri Shankar Mandir in Brampton is latest in attacks on Hindu temples in Canada by anti-Hindu and anti-India groups.”

“From hatred on social media, now physical attacks on Hindu temples, what next? I call on govt at levels in Canada to start taking this seriously,” he said.

In September, India’s ministry of foreign affairs advised its nationals, including students, in Canada to stay vigilant and exercise caution on account of a “sharp increase” in incidents of hate crime, sectarian violence and “anti-India activities” in the country.

In an advisory, the ministry said Indian authorities have raised the matter with their Canadian counterparts. “There has been a sharp increase in incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada. The Ministry of External Affairs and our High Commission/ Consulates General in Canada have taken up these incidents with the Canadian authorities and requested them to investigate the said crimes and take appropriate action. The perpetrators of these crimes have not been brought to justice so far in Canada.”

A string of similar incidents took place in Australia this month as well. Three temples were defaced with anti-India graffiti allegedly by pro-Khalistani groups.

The Indian High Commission in Canberra recently condemned the vandalisation of three temples in Melbourne.

“Signals that pro-Khalistan elements are stepping up their activities in Australia, actively aided and abetted by members of the proscribed terrorist organisations such as the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) and other inimical agencies from outside Australia, have been evident for some time,” the mission said in a statement on 26 January.

Over the weekend, violence broke out between pro-Khalistani groups and people of Indian origin in Melbourne over the defacing of a temple. On Monday, India took up the matter with Australian authorities.

Indian high commissioner to Australia Manpreet Vohra said the attacks are detrimental to peace.

After meeting Daniel Andrews, premier of the province of Victoria, he tweeted: “Discussed our strong and growing bilateral relationship, the violence in Melbourne yesterday, and how to stop extremist Khalistani groups engaging in further activities prejudicial to peace and harmony.”

SFJ was declared a banned organisation in India in 2019. The group started a campaign called “Referendum 2020” — which is a voting exercise that is being organised across several countries.

The referendum seeks to establish a consensus among Sikh communities to carve out a separate homeland within India, which will be known as Khalistan.