The public exhibition of a contentious scene portraying the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as part of 5km long parade in Brampton, Canada, has generated significant anger and criticism.
New Delhi: A video circulating online depicts a statue of Indira Gandhi covered in blood, with two Sikh bodyguards aiming their guns at her. In the backdrop, a banner reads, “Revenge of Attack on Shri Darbar Sahib”. Numerous media sources confirm that the procession was orchestrated by pro-Khalistan groups.
Not only has Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and the Canadian High Commissioner in India expressed their strong disapproval, but also the Punjabi community residing in Canada has vehemently denounced the display.
What is Operation Bluestar?
The controversial tableau was showcased during a parade held in Brampton, Ontario on Saturday, June 4th, just days before the 39th anniversary of ‘Operation Bluestar’.
Indira Gandhi was killed on October 31, 1984, by her bodyguards, a few months after the completion of ‘Operation Bluestar’. The operation involved the Indian Army’s mission to remove pro-Khalistan militants who had taken control of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Sikh community launched extensive protests in response to these events.
Video viral, outrage spread nationwide
Balraj Deol, a journalist based in Toronto, expressed his strong condemnation of the incident through Twitter. In his initial tweet, he urged Canada to open its eyes and observe how the country is being used against India.
Deol further questioned the compatibility of this incident with Canada’s ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’. He emphasized that including a float portraying the murder of the former Indian Prime Minister by her Sikh bodyguards as part of a parade in Brampton, which extended over approximately 5 kilometers, should prompt reflection from Jody Thomas, the security advisor to Justin Trudeau.
Maninder Singh Gill, the president of the Friends of Canada & India Foundation based in Canada, expressed his concerns regarding the incident. He strongly condemned the actions of the Khalistani individuals, stating that such acts would create significant problems in Canada for future generations. While supporting the ‘Nagar Kirtan‘ tradition, he emphasized that promoting terrorism and hatred should not be a part of it.
He criticized the small faction of Khalistani individuals, comprising only 10%, for causing disturbances, engaging in unruly behavior, and posing a threat to peace. Gill mentioned that his organization has conveyed a strong message to both governments, urging them to take preventive measures to avoid similar incidents in the future due to the potential negative implications they may have.
Reactions on Social Media
The controversial video has sparked considerable criticism on various social media platforms, including from Milind Deora, a leader of the Congress Party. Deora expressed his concerns about the Canadian government has apparently turned “blind eye” for the activities of certain individuals, causing disruptions in gurdwaras by displaying photographs of militants instead of the revered ‘Gurus’.
He also accused the government of supporting these individuals when they mistreat peaceful Sikh community members and failing to take action on filed complaints. Mann clarified that he is not a supporter of the Congress Party but a reasonable individual who understands that such incidents can escalate into violence.
During a media briefing, India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, expressed criticism towards the Canadian government for its leniency towards separatists and extremists within Canada.
He emphasized that there appeared to be a broader issue at hand and questioned the reasons behind such leniency, suggesting that it may be driven by political considerations. Jaishankar highlighted concerns about the space given to individuals who advocate violence and promote separatism, stating that it has negative implications for bilateral relationships and is detrimental to Canada’s interests.