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India alleges another hate crime in Canada; misunderstanding, say local police

Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, October 3

Amidst the ongoing diplomatic spat between India and Canada, the Indian High Commission in Toronto has raised an alarm over an alleged hate crime in Brampton on Gandhi Jayanti but the local authorities suggested that it was a misunderstanding.

“We condemn the hate crime at the Shri Bhagavad Gita Park in Brampton. We urge Canadian authorities and Peel Police to investigate and take prompt action on the perpetrators,” tweeted the Indian mission, raising alarm following previous charges of separatist and racist activity in Canada.

The Peel Police said the permanent sign is still waiting for the lettering to be applied and “there was no evidence of vandalism to the permanent sign or any park structure”.

The local authorities did admit something had happened but maintained that some of the perceived vandalism was in fact incomplete work by the contractor. “Following yesterday’s action of vandalism to the Shri Bhagwat Gita Park we took swift action to investigate further. We learned that the reported blank sign was installed by the builder as a placeholder until the permanent sign can be installed tomorrow. We are pleased to learn of this outcome and we thank the community for bringing it to our notice,” the Brampton City posted on social media.

“We learned that the sign was damaged during the original install and a city staff member brought it back for unplanned maintenance and to reprint. The blank sign was left up during repairs. This is not a usual process as we never remove a sign unless damaged or its name changes,” Brampton City Mayor Patrick Brown said in another social media post while terming the incident as “confusion over resident complaints about Gita Park sign”.

The Indian High Commission is on its toes after the Sikhs for Justice announced a second referendum on Khalistan in Toronto on November 6. India reacted sharply to the first so-called Khalistan referendum in Brampton on September 19. Canada said it did not recognise the referendum to express support for a separate Sikh nation-state but India said it must go after the separatists and had warned of a previous history of violence in Punjab due to similar provocations.

The Ministry of External Affairs had also issued an advisory asking Indians to be vigilant in Canada due to a rise in hate crime, racism and separatist activity. Canada, too, retaliated with an advisory asking visitors to avoid Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan among other states due to the fear of unexploded bombs and landmines.

Desk Team