‘This is why fewer Sikhs visiting gurdwaras abroad’: BJP after Indian envoy heckled in Long Island
New Delhi: The BJP has condemned the heckling of the Indian ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu at a gurdwara in Long Island, New York.
Party leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said the verbal attack on Sandhu, allegedly by pro-Khalistani supporters, was “not justified at all”, reminding people that the diplomat came from a family whose legacy as Sikhs preceded Independence.
His grandfather, Sirsa said, was Teja Singh Samundri who fought for the gurdwara reform movement (Chabiyan Da Morcha) in the 1920s. “I believe that this kind of heckling is not justified at all. I condemn this,” said the BJP national secretary.
According to a video doing the rounds on social media, Sandhu is seen confronted by the men at the Hicksville Gurdwara where he was offering prayers on the occasion of Gurpurab. The hecklers confronted the ambassador and shouted slogans about India-designated terrorists Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
Later, without any mention of the incident, Sandhu posted on X that he was “privileged to join the local sangat”, which included Sikhs from Afghanistan.
BJP national spokesperson R.P. Singh called those who heckled Sandhu “ISI agents” who were defaming Sikhism by “tying a turban”. “No Sikh will stop anyone from coming to the gurdwara, nor will they fight in the gurdwara premises,” Singh wrote in a post on X.
Mentioning the martyrdom of Sandhu’s grandfather, he said the number of Sikhs visiting gurdwaras abroad had dipped due to these “Khalistanis (ISI agents)”.
Singh also termed accusations levelled by the hecklers “baseless”.
यह खालिस्तानी, ISI एजेंट है, जो पगड़ी बांध कर सीखी को बदनाम कर रहे है क्यों कि कोई भी सिख किसी को भी गुरद्वारे आने से रोकेगा नही और न ही गुरुद्वारे परिसर में झगड़ा करेगा, और वह भैस ऐसे सिख को जिसके दादा जी सीखी के लिए शहादत दी हो। इन खालिस्तानियों (ISI एजेंट्स) के चलते विदेश में… https://t.co/tI5t5KXFYA
— RP Singh National Spokesperson BJP (@rpsinghkhalsa) November 27, 2023
Canada-based Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in the parking lot outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, in June. A few months later, Canadian President Justin Trudeau told Parliament there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of Nijjar. India dismissed this as “absurd and motivated”.
A report by the Financial Times last week claimed that the US had thwarted a plot to kill Pannun – a dual US-Canadian citizen – and privately expressed concerns to New Delhi in this regard. India was “surprised and concerned” when informed about this purported plot, and told the White House that “activity of this nature was not their policy”, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson had said in a statement issued after the publication of the report.
Pannun, like Nijjar, is a proponent of a Khalistan state. The ‘general counsel’ of the secessionist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), he was designated an “individual terrorist” by India in 2020.
The incident involving Sandhu was the second such involving an Indian ambassador in Sikh gurdwaras abroad. In September, the Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Vikram Doraiswami was reportedly stopped from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow, Scotland.
India later shared its concerns about the security of its diplomats with UK authorities.
There has been a rise in Sikh extremist activities in countries like Canada, the US, Australia and the UK in recent months. The Indian consulate in San Francisco was attacked twice this year, following which India registered a “strong protest” with the US, calling for “appropriate measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents”. Last week, the US also shared inputs on the nexus between organised criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others during discussions on the India-US security cooperation, the Ministry of External Affairs said.News Related