After protests at a routine certificate camp organised by the Indian consulate in a gurudwara located in Vancouver on November 13, 2023, the pro-Khalistani elements have threatened to disrupt similar activities in the future. Such camps are routine where there are significant numbers of the Indian diaspora and are aimed at serving seniors who require documents for various purposes including pensions, insurance, and banking activity.
On November 13, 2023, the Indian consulate in Vancouver held a consular camp for issuing life certificates to the Indian government pensioners, the venue being the Khalsa Diwan’s society gurudwara in Abbotsford in British Columbia. However, Khalistani protestors gathered outside the gurudwara and later, the consulate team and offiilas were removed from the place by police. That underscored the point made by India earlier about the work of its High Commission and consulates by pro-Khalistani elements.
The same day a video message from the event on November 13, 2023, showed a pensioner being heckled outside the gurudwara premises even as his younger companion attempted to pick up the Indian flag thrown on the ground by the protestors. That normal functioning of Indian officials has been impeded as the reason was Indian officials suspending the visas to Canadian nationals on September 21, 2023. The service was restored on October 25, 2023, but nine others including tourists and e-visas still remain suspended.
A senior Indian official said between ten and 20 protestors gathered outside the gurudwara and they also abused a couple of end users who came to get consular services. There was no problem in the conduct of the camp. Enough police presence was there, the official added.
Message from Sikhs For Justice
The secessionist group based in the US and Canada, the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has said that wherever Indian officials go, the pro-Khalistani elements will attempt to hold them accountable. The pro-Khalistani Sikhs are going to challenge every single Indian diplomat since they are setting up spy network under the garb or cover of community programs, the SFJ general counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said in a statement.
The SFJ released posters on November 15, 2023, threatening to shut down such camps that are being scheduled to be held in Greater Toronto Area (GTA) on November 18 and 19, 2023. The venue for one is a gurudwara while the other two are at Hindu temples. A similar poster has been issued for the Metro Vancouver region where such camps are scheduled on November 19, 2023 at two gurudwaras. It also lists another camp to be held at Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan.
Maninder Singh Gill, the president of the Surrey British Columbia based Friends of India-Canada said he strongly condemned the cowardly heckling of the consulate officials. “The consulate officers have made more than 635 life certificates for the elderly people who are pensioners of various government departments in India. If the consulate officers do not go to the pensioners, then these people will have to travel to Vancouver, where they will be facing certain difficulties,” he added.
India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma told an Indian media agency that the “Provision of security to key Indian diplomats and consular officials does not necessarily mean that the security environment has improved. It only means that despite threats to their persons, they are able to have restricted physical movement. The situation is still not ideal to conduct normal diplomatic and consular functions by all Indian diplomats and consular officials.”