By A Special Correspondent
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks set for a major outreach towards the powerful Sikh community in Canada but that is not going to stop certain groups with strident agendas to stage rallies and protests next week.
The RCMP’s Protective Policing Services is also planning to deploy a high-level security plan akin to those reserved for the president of the United States, the Queen of England or the Pope.
This will include air support, alternative motorcade routes and last minute unannounced changes.
Modi’s Special Protection Group (SPG) and India’s spy agency commonly known as RAW or Research and Analysis Wing have been in Canada working with the Mounties and the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office on security details.
Modi’s itinerary includes visits to Ottawa, Toronto And Vancouver, where he is expected to go to the Ross Street Sikh Gurdwara, a Hindu temple in Surrey and attend a State Banquet hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Observers feel the Modi government’s outreach towards the Sikh community in Canada will significantly strengthen the moderates and will also seek to reassure the Sikh community abroad that India will always stand with it to protect its interests.[/quote]
So far, Canadian Sikhs under the banners of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and Canada unit of Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (Mann) are reportedly gearing-up to protest against Modi’s upcoming visit to Canada.
The organizers of proposed protests say that Modi has a track record of severe human rights violation and he is leading a government run by Hindu extremist organizations, which indulge in attacks on religious minorities, particularly Christians and Muslims.
Before he became Prime Minister of India and as chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi was denied a visa to Canada as a suspected human rights abusers. In 2002, Modi was in power in Gujarat during religious riots in which 1,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims. He was eventually cleared of any wrong doing by the Supreme but his fervent Hindu nationalism had poisoned his foreign relations and several other Western countries shunned him, including the United States.
In a recent update, Sikhs For Justice alleged that “Indian diplomats in Canada led by High Commissioner Vishnu Prakash have embarked upon a fierce campaign of intimidation and coercion against the members of the Sikh community, particularly media, to ensure their silence on the issue of PM Modi's involvement in the 2002 massacre of Muslims in the state of Gujarat.”
The group criticized Indian diplomats in Canada for exceeding their legitimate limits and claimed the activities of the Indian diplomatic officials posted in Canada violate provisions of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.
“The Indian High Commission in Canada has set up a 'state within a state' and is openly challenging the sovereignty of Canada, violating Canadian and international law and thus defying the autonomy of the host Government,” said Sikhs for Justice.
Tussle within community
Indian media reporting on the upcoming visit said Canada has been witness to a fierce intra-community tussle between the moderate Sikhs, who are soft on India, and the pro-Khalistani hardliners who leave no stone unturned to target India on its human rights record.
In fact, in the decade that followed Operation Bluestar in 1984, when Punjab was wracked by militancy, pro-Khalistan Sikhs in Canada were at the forefront of fund mobilization for the secessionist movement, said the Deccan Herald.
Observers feel the Modi government’s outreach towards the Sikh community in Canada will significantly strengthen the moderates and will also seek to reassure the Sikh community abroad that India will always stand with it to protect its interests. Hate-crimes against Sikhs have increased in the West, and India has taken up the issue strongly with the concerned governments.
The Prime Minister will visit Canada from April 14, on the third and final leg of his forthcoming foreign tour after visiting France and Germany. He is also expected to visit a Hindu temple in Canada, which could be the Laxmi Narayan Temple in Surrey.
[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The organizers of proposed protests say that Modi has a track record of severe human rights violation and he is leading a government run by Hindu extremist organizations, which indulge in attacks on religious minorities, particularly Christians and Muslims.[/quote]
Apart from the capital city of Ottawa, the Prime Minister will also travel to Toronto where a New York Madison Square-like event is planned by the Indian diaspora at the Ricoh Coliseum in the city.
The Madison Square event during Modi’s US visit last September had been a huge success and the Indian diaspora in Canada is aiming to make it a bigger event than the one in New York.
Modi’s foreign visit starts on April 9 and he will hold talks with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian PM Stephen Harper during his eight-day tour, which is part of India’s “Link-West” policy.
Next month, Modi will visit China. He is also likely to visit Mongolia and South Korea after that as part of India’s “Act East” policy. During his China visit, Mr Modi is likely to visit Xian, the hometown of President Xi Jinping.
Republished in partnership with South Asian Post