There is no place for hate in Canada, its public safety ministry said on Friday said after a separatist leader was seen in a video telling Hindu Canadians to leave the North American country.
The video has been circulated by banned organisation Sikhs for Justice, which had conducted a “Khalistan referendum” in Canada in September last year. The Khalistan movement is a separatist campaign to create a country for Sikhs by seceding from India.
In the video, the group’s legal counsel Gurpatwant Pannun, a designated terrorist, told “Indo-Hindus” to leave Canada and go back to India, reported the Hindustan Times. “You not only support India but you are also supporting the suppression of speech and expression of pro-Khalistan Sikhs,” he said.
The public safety ministry, in a statement on Friday, described the video as “offensive and hateful” as well as an affront to all Canadians.
“Acts of aggression, hate, intimidation or incitement of fear have no place in this country and only serve to divide us,” it said. “We urge all Canadians to respect one another and follow the rule of law. Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities.”
The development comes amid a widening rift between India and Canada after Ottawa alleged that New Delhi may be involved in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in suburban Vancouver.
India has rejected the charges as “absurd and motivated”.
On Thursday, Canadian legislator Chandra Arya, a member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, had also expressed concern about Pannun’s threats. In a video message, Arya said that many Hindu families in Canada have told him they are afraid.
The legislator said that he cannot understand how “glorification of terrorism” is allowed in the name of freedom of speech.
“There would be an outrage in Canada if a white supremist attacked any group of racialised Canadians asking them to get out of our country,” he said. “But apparently this Khalistani leader can get away with this hate crime.”
He added: “I again call upon Hindu-Canadians to stay calm but vigilant. As Canadians, we can be proud of our Hindu faith and heritage and our impressive contribution to the socio-economic success of our country Canada.”