India Condemns Vandalism at Bhagavad Gita Park in Canada, Calls It ‘Hate Crime’, Urges Prompt Action

Canada has been witnessing a sharp rise in the hate crimes committed against its Indian nationals. However, a recent incident concerning a park in Canada has triggered a new wave of tension in the community.

A recently unveiled Shri Bhagavad Gita Park sign was vandalized in Canada’s Brampton. It was previously called Troyers Park and was later renamed Shri Bhagavad Gita Park. The incident was confirmed by Mayor Patrick Brown on October 1st who also assured that the country has zero tolerance for such acts of violence.

“We condemn the hate crime at the Shri Bhagvad Gita Park in Brampton. We urge Canadian authorities and Peel Police to investigate and take prompt action on the perpetrators,” the High Commission of India in Ottawa said in a tweet.

Centre’s Advisory to Indian Nationals in Canada

Canada which is home to 1.6 million people of Indian origin and non-resident Indians has been witnessing several attacks on Hindu places of worship this year including defacing a temple with anti-Hindu graffiti on September 15.

Such acts have been instrumental in alarming the Indian govt who in their recent advisory have warned its citizens in the country and students flying to it to remain vigilant about a “sharp increase in hate crimes, sectarian violence, and anti-India activities”.

“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,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement, which was posted on Twitter.

In addition, Indian nationals have been asked to register with the High Commission of India in Ottawa or the consulates in Toronto and Vancouver through their websites or the Madad portal.

Khalistan Referendum

Notably, the advisory came about a day after India expressed their concerns over the alleged “Khalistan referendum” in Canada, reported Indian Express. Calling the movement “deeply objectionable” and “politically motivated”, the Indian government condemned the practice conducted by extremist elements in a country abroad. India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi expressed his views on the referendum and tagged it as a “farcical exercise held by extremist and radical elements”.

The referendum by “pro-Khalistan” elements in Canada was held on 19 September. Over one lakh Canadian Sikhs voted for the referendum, demanding a separate homeland for Sikhs, in Brampton, Ontario. The vote was organised by the pro-Khalistani group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), which has been banned in India since 2019.

Here is a look at some incidents from the past which might have prompted the Indian government to take such a step.

Vandalism of Temples

Earlier this week, a prominent Hindu temple was defaced by alleged Canadian Khalistani extremists with anti-India graffiti. Before that, the gates of BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, one of the largest temples in the country, were spray-painted with the words “Khalistan zindabad” and “Hindustan murdabad”.The Statue of Mahatma Gandhi was defaced at a Hindu Temple in Canada in April of 2022. As per reports, several incidents of vandalism in Hindu and Jain temples and gurudwaras were reported between November 2021 and March 2022.

Attack on Individuals

An Indian-origin Punjabi radio host was attacked in Brampton. In an apparently targeted attack, Joti Singh Mann was attacked in Brampton, Canada, with axes. In another incident, Kartik Vasudev, a 21-year-old Indian management student from Ghaziabad was killed after being shot multiple times by a stranger unprovoked, outside the Sherbourne subway station in Toronto.

A 25-year-old girl from Kapurthala, Punjab, Harmandeep Kaur, who had completed her studies in Canada, was hit on the head, allegedly by a Canadian national, with a rod and died in March of 2022.

Besides, several incidents of burglaries at Hindu temples were also reported however these were discarded by the Canadian government as crimes not associated with hate.

Meanwhile, India today condemned the ‘hate crime’ at a park in Canada named after Bhagavad Gita. “We condemn the hate crime at the Shri Bhagvad Gita Park in Brampton. We urge Canadian authorities and Peel Police to investigate and take prompt action on the perpetrators,” the High Commission of India in Ottawa said in a tweet.

As per reports, Canada universally touted as an immigrant-friendly county, witnessed a 72 percent surge in incidents of hate crime between 2019 and 2021, according to Statistics Canada, an official Canadian government agency.

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