Hundreds gather outside Indian consulate in Vancouver to protest crackdowns in Punjab

Click to play video: 'Hundreds from Sikh community protest outside Indian Consulate in Vancouver'
Hundreds from Sikh community protest outside Indian Consulate in Vancouver
Hundreds of protesters waved bright yellow flags in front of Vancouver's Indian consulate downtown on Saturday. As Travis Prasad reports, the local Sikh community is condemning government crackdowns targeting Sikhs in Punjab, India – Mar 25, 2023

Hundreds of protesters waved bright yellow flags in front of Vancouver’s Indian consulate downtown Saturday to protest crackdowns targeting Sikhs in Punjab, India.

The government of India cut off the internet in the northwestern, Sikh-majority state of Punjab for several days.

“It’s all happening under the guise of a manhunt which we know to be false,” said BC Gurdwaras Council’s Moninder Singh. “The suspension of civil liberties, the suspension of civil rights and political dissent… that has us worried.”

Indian police are looking for Amritpal Singh — a polarizing Sikh preacher and activist. He leads a group calling for an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan. The Indian government has banned the Khalistan movement.

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Demonstrators in Vancouver told Global News they’re worried about their loved ones.

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“Whether or not they see it as treason, individuals shouldn’t face such harsh reprimand in terms of taking away their civil liberties,” said Harnoor Minhas, a Vancouver resident. “They should be able to speak out, especially if it’s in a peaceful manner.”

The government of Canada has said officials are “monitoring” the situation in India.

The unrest in India has sparked protests in major cities across the world, like San Francisco and London, sending a message to Indian officials that the world is watching.

“Maybe in the past, without social media and the connectivity we have today, that wasn’t an option,” Minhas said. “But today these things…we won’t let this happen and we won’t allow these injustices to happen in silence.”

Global News has reached out to the consulate office for comment.

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— With files from Negar Mojtahedi

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