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‘Not a hate crime,’ rules Canadian law enforcement on Indira Gandhi float | World News

3 min read

Canadian law enforcement does not believe that the display depicting the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi upon a float at a parade in the Greater Toronto Area on June 4 constitutes a hate crime.

Parade float depicting Indira Gandhi's assassination at an event organised by pro-Khalistani supporters in Brampton city of Canada.(Screengrab from video tweeted by @BalrajDeol4)
Parade float depicting Indira Gandhi’s assassination at an event organised by pro-Khalistani supporters in Brampton city of Canada.(Screengrab from video tweeted by @BalrajDeol4)

A statement released from the office of Patrick Brown, the Mayor of the town of Brampton, where the event occurred, said, “Police have looked at the video and it’s their determination it does not constitute a hate crime.”

Brown’s office also said that he was not at the event nor was it a city of Brampton function.

However, the statement added that under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “Canadians are guaranteed freedom of thought, belief and expression.”

“Any decision to change Section 2 would be at the Federal level. Police enforce laws. They don’t write them,” it noted.

Meanwhile, in response to queries from the Hindustan Times, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada or GAC, the country’s foreign ministry, said it “has nothing further to add to the tweet from Canada’s High Commissioner to India Cameron McKay on June 5th.”

That tweet, the only official reaction from a Canadian official so far had said, “I am appalled by reports of an event in Canada that celebrated the assassination of late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. There is no place in Canada for hate or for the glorification of violence. I categorically condemn these activities.”

The float, which has infuriated the Indian Government, figured in a shaheedi diwas or martyrdom day parade in Brampton on June 4, marking the 39th anniversary of Operation Bluestar when Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his supporters. Other tableaux at the event had featured posters of Bhindranwale.

Indo-Canadian organisations have also expressed their outrage over the float. Satish Thakkar, chair of the Canada India Foundation, said that “besides being a hate crime,” it “celebrated an act of terrorism against the democratically elected leader of a country that has been the place of origin for nearly two million law-abiding Indo-Canadians.”

He added that the continuation of such acts will reflect poorly on Canada in the world stage, besides negatively impacting the potential for strengthened relations between Canada and India.

Jaishankar told media in New Delhi on Thursday that the float is linked to the bigger issue of the “space that Canada has continuously” provided to Khalistani elements.

Jaishankar’s remarks came after India’s High Commission in Ottawa sent a formal note to GAC on Wednesday to express displeasure over the float, which displayed mannequins depicting Gandhi and her killers, two members of her security detail.

A senior Indian official described the occurrence as “not acceptable”, adding, “You cannot exceed freedom of expression like this, glorifying the assassination of the leader of a democratic nation.”

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