India today warned its citizens in Canada and students flying to the country about a “sharp increase in hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities”, and urged them to “remain vigilant”.
The Foreign Ministry said it has taken up incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities with Canada and has asked for investigation and action. “The perpetrators of these crimes have not been brought to justice so far in Canada,” said a ministry statement.
“In view of the increasing incidences of crimes as described above, Indian nationals and students from India in Canada and those proceeding to Canada for travel/education are advised to exercise due caution and remain vigilant,” the statement said.
The advisory was put out in the middle of a huge diplomatic row over a so-called referendum by “pro-Khalistan” elements on a separate homeland for Sikhs.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had yesterday described the referendum as a “farcical exercise held by extremist and radical elements”. He also said it was “deeply objectionable” that this was allowed in a friendly country.
“We would term it as farcical exercise. A farcical exercise was held by extremists and radical elements supporting the so-called Khalistan referendum in Canada,” Mr Bagchi said.
The government urged Indian nationals and students in Canada to register with the Indian mission in Ottawa or consulates in Toronto and Vancouver. This will “enable the High Commission and the Consulates General to better connect with Indian citizens in Canada in the event of any requirement or emergency,” the statement said.
Canada is home to 1.6 million people of Indian origin and non-resident Indians.
This year, there have been at least two incidents of attacks on Hindu temples in the country. On September 15, a temple was defaced with anti-India graffiti.