‘Gurdwaras are…’: US Sikh body on Indian envoy’s heckling by Khalistani backers
A US-based Sikh body has strongly condemned the heckling of Indian ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu by Khalistani during his visit to a gurdwara in New York. It also called on the shrine’s management to take stern action against those involved so that devotees can pray “without any fear or pressure”.
Sikhs of America, in a statement issued on Monday, said gurdwaras should be free from personal political views as they were places of worship, news agency PTI reported.
Sandhu attended Gurpurab prayers at the Hicksville Gurdwara in Long Island on Sunday (local time). He was warmly welcomed at the gurdwara, PTI reported, quoting sources.
But a group of Khalistani supporters heckled the envoy and shouted questions about Khalistani terrorists Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, according to videos of the incident circulating on social media.
“We urge the management of the Gurdwara Sahib to take strict actions against these miscreants so that the peace-loving Sikh community in New York can come to gurdwaras freely without any fear or pressure,” Sikhs of America’s founder and chairman Jasdip Singh Jassee and its president Kanwaljit Singh Soni said in the statement.
“Ambassador Sandhu went to Gurdwara Sahib to pray and the management of Gurdwara Sahib honoured him with Saropa Sahib. After that, a handful of miscreants tried to disrespect him and violated the peace and sanctity of the Gurdwara Sahib. Gurdwaras are places of worship and should be free from personal political views,” the statement added.
The Khalistani supporters were later escorted out of the Hicksville Gurdwara by members of the Sikh community.
“We strongly condemn the disrespect of a Sikh devotee, Ambassador of India to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu in a gurdwara in Long Island, NY yesterday (Sunday),” it said.
The incident came amid a backdrop of heightened tensions between India and Canada following the killing of Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18. The killing led to a diplomatic spat between the two nations after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged Indian involvement, an accusation that New Delhi has firmly denied, calling it “absurd.”
In a similar incident in September, Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami was denied entry to a gurdwara and heckled by a group of radical British Sikh activist in Scotland’s Glasgow.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had expressed serious concern over the safety of its diplomats and took up the matter with several countries, including the US and the UK, calling for measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
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