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Police 'engaged' as Ottawa says video contains threat against Indian diplomats

Ottawa says law enforcement is "engaged" after a a video circling online that appears to threaten Indian diplomats in Canada. The Canada flag flies atop the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, May 5, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick) Ottawa says law enforcement is "engaged" after a a video circling online that appears to threaten Indian diplomats in Canada. The Canada flag flies atop the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, May 5, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
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Ottawa says law enforcement is "engaged" after a video circulating online appeared to threaten Indian diplomats in Canada.

Public Safety Canada said in a Tuesday tweet that Ottawa will ensure the safety of all diplomats in Canada, but the department would not provide details.

It referred queries to the RCMP, which refused to confirm whether it had opened a criminal probe or say which particular video was involved.

Some Canadian Sikhs who advocate for the secession of a region in India have claimed that New Delhi was involved in the June death of a preacher near Vancouver, though police say they have no evidence of such a link.

A month ago, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly denounced posters accusing senior Indian diplomats of being "killers," saying they were "unacceptable."

The issue has strained diplomatic relations between Canada and India as the two negotiate a possible trade agreement ahead of an expected visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next month to New Delhi.

India's high commission in Ottawa has not responded to a request for comment on the latest apparent threat.

While Ottawa won't specify what video it finds threatening to Indian diplomats, a July 21 clip posted on social media by the group Sikhs for Justice calls for people to "besiege" India's diplomatic missions in Canada, accusing diplomats of responsibility for violence against those wanting a separate state.

The video shows a tank labelled "Kill India" that blows up a graphic of India's borders. It appears on certain social media but seems to have been removed from YouTube for violating that platform's terms of service.

Last month, Indian media reported that the high commission in Ottawa had formally asked the Canadian government to enhance protection for its senior diplomats, for instance through escorts.

New Delhi has long accused Canada of harbouring extremists who want to carve out a state within India they call Khalistan. Ottawa has said that freedom of speech means groups can voice political opinions if they don't use violence.

In June, Canadian and Indian officials condemned a parade float in Brampton, Ont., that portrayed the 1984 assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards. Organizers said the float was meant to commemorate martyrs and acknowledge bloody strife in India, but officials said it glorified violence.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2023.

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