Spray-painted messages reading “Khalistan zindabad” (long live Khalistan) and “Hindustan murdabad” (death to India) were found on the gates of BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, one of the largest temples in Canada, in what is being called a hate crime (death to India).
The Canadian high commissioner in India, Cameron MacKay, and the Indian embassy in Canada both issued statements strongly denouncing the vandalism.
I, like many other Canadians, am appalled by the vandalism of Toronto’s BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir. MacKay argued that all houses of worship should be treated with dignity and that hatred has no place in Canada.
In the meantime, the Indian embassy in Canada has demanded an investigation into the incident and swift action against the culprits.
The BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir also published a statement Thursday calling for calm and describing the unnamed culprits as “anti-social individuals.”
The BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto, Canada issued a statement on their website reading, “We are horrified and disturbed by the anti-India graffiti at the gates of the temple by anti-social groups.”
The status of any local probe into the incident is unknown.
In a similar event a month ago, six individuals used a sledgehammer to smash a Mahatma Gandhi statue that had been painstakingly constructed and displayed outside a temple in Queens, New York. Offensive graffiti was also seen on the road outside the Queens temple where the event took place.
Recent vandalism in the United States and Canada
In recent years, there has been widespread vandalism across the United States and Canada, particularly targeting statues of Mahatma Gandhi.
In July, the words “Khalistan” and “rapist” were spray-painted on a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at a Hindu temple in Richmond Hill, Canada.
An 8-foot-tall statue of Gandhi in Union Square in Manhattan was vandalised in February. In front of the Indian embassy in Washington, DC, Khalistani-supporters desecrated a Gandhi statue in December 2020.
A deity at the Swaminarayan Temple in Kentucky, United States, was splattered with black paint in January 2019.
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