India has hit out at Canada for allowing a float in a parade depicting the 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, perceived to be a glorification of violence by Sikh separatists.
“I think there is a larger underlying issue about the space which is given to separatists, to extremists, to people who advocate violence,” India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told reporters in New Delhi while commenting about the tableau in a parade.
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“I think it is not good for relationships, not good for Canada,” he said.
Canada’s High Commissioner in India also condemned the incident at a parade by Sikh activists in the Canadian city of Brampton.
Video circulated in recent days on the internet showed a tableau from the parade featuring Gandhi wearing a blood-stained white saree with her hands up as turban-clad men pointed guns at her. A poster behind the scene read: “Revenge”.
It's not about taking sides, it's about respect for a nation's history & the pain caused by its Prime Minister’s assassination.… pic.twitter.com/zLRbTYhRAE
— Milind Deora | मिलिंद देवरा ☮️ (@milinddeora) June 7, 2023
“I am appalled by reports of an event in Canada that celebrated the assassination of late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,” Cameron MacKay said on Twitter.
“There is no place in Canada for hate or for the glorification of violence. I categorically condemn these activities.”
Several members of Gandhi’s Congress party condemned the holding of the parade in the Canadian city and demanded action from the Indian government.
“It’s not about taking sides, it’s about respect for a nation’s history & the pain caused by its Prime Minister’s assassination,” former Congress Mumbai leader Milind Deora wrote on Twitter.
VIDEO | "The Canadian government should take action on such controversial and illegal acts," says Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi on tableau in Canada depicting Indira Gandhi's assassination. pic.twitter.com/K1Qxrz6NrJ
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) June 8, 2023
Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by two Sikh bodyguards after she allowed the storming of the holiest Sikh temple, aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists who demanded an independent homeland to be known as Khalistan.
The storming of the temple angered Sikhs around the world. The death toll in the attack remains disputed, with Indian authorities putting it in the hundreds and Sikh groups in the thousands.
Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India.
Earlier this year, India summoned Canada’s high commissioner to convey concern over pro-Khalistan protesters in Canada who breached the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates.
Bilateral commercial relations between the two countries are worth $100bn, which includes $70bn of Canadian portfolio investment, according to official figures.