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Indira Gandhi assassination tableau not a hate crime, says Canadian agencies

Indira Gandhi assassination tableau not a hate crime, says Canadian agencies

Brampton: Canada’s law enforcement agency said on Saturday that the tableau depicting the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at a parade in Brampton city of Ontario province does not qualify as a hate crime.

“The police have looked at the video and it is their determination that it does not constitute a hate crime,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said in a statement.

The controversial tableau was put on display during a parade on June 4 to mark the 39th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, when Indian forces stormed into the Golden Temple in Amritsar to oust separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his supporters in 1984. Two years later, Gandhi was shot dead by two of her Sikh bodyguards.

The statue depicting Gandhi was seen in a blood-stained white saree while turban-clad men point guns at her. A poster on the tableau read: “Revenge for attack on Shri Darbar Sahib”.

Videos of the event showed that other tableaux featured banners referring to the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

The event triggered outrage, with external affairs minister S Jaishankar criticising Canada over the incident saying that the North American country was giving space to separatists.

Canadian High Commissioner to India Cameron Mackay had said that he was appalled by the event. “There is no place in Canada for hate or for the glorification of violence,” he had said in a tweet. “I categorically condemn these activities.”

Taking note of the matter, Brampton mayor Patrick Brown issued a statement: “Police have looked at the video and it’s their determination it does not constitute a hate crime.”

The statement also pointed out that Canadians are “guaranteed freedom of thought, belief and expression” under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada (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”.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials on the matter on Saturday.

Indo-Canadian organisations have also expressed their outrage over the float.

Satish Thakkar, chair of the Canada India Foundation, said the parade “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”.

Indira Gandhi served as the first and only woman Prime Minister of India from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until her assassination in October 1984.

She was shot dead by two of her own bodyguards at her official residence on October 31, 1984. The assassination was followed by anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and elsewhere in the country, in which thousands of Sikhs were killed and businesses looted.

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