NEW YORK: India’s Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu was heckled by a group of pro-Khalistani supporters while offering prayers at a gurdwara in New York’s Long Island on Sunday The Khalistani supporters were later escorted out of the gurdwara’s premises by members of the Sikh community. A protester is heard shouting in Punjabi, “You are responsible for the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. You plotted to kill Pannun.” the protesters surrounded him and started shouting.
The Indian Ambassador was accompanied by Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal and Deputy Consul General Varun Jeph at the event and spoke on the historical linkages between Sikh Gurus, Sikhs and Afghanistan A video of the exchange between Sandhu and the Khalistani protesters has now gone viral. The video starts with the envoy telling the protesters that he is visiting the gurdwara for seva (service). A protester is heard shouting in Punjabi, “You are responsible for the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. You plotted to kill Pannun.”
“Himmat Singh who led the pro Khalistanies at Hicksville Gurdwara in New York also accused ambassador Sandhu for India’s role in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was President of Surrey Gurdwara and the coordinator for Canadian Chapter of the Khalistan Referendum,” Singh added.The Indian envoy left the premises in his vehicle, while a protestor raised the Khalistani flag outside the Gurdwara.
Mr Sandhu later posted on X about his visit to the gurdwara but did not mention the heckling he faced. “Privileged to join the local Sangat, including from Afghanistan, at Guru Nanak Darbar of Long Island in celebrating Gurpurab- listened to Kirtan, spoke about Guru Nanak’s everlasting message of togetherness, unity, & equality, partook langar, and sought blessings for all,” Sandhu posted on X on Sunday.Sandhu assured the members of the Sikh community that Indian diplomats would provide all help and support to them.
Reacting to the incident, BJP national spokesperson RP Singh said, “Khalistanies tried to heckle Indian Ambassador @SandhuTaranjitS with basless Questions for his role in the failed plot to assassinate Gurpatwant, (SFJ) and Khalistan Referendum campaign.”
“Himmat Singh who led the pro Khalistanies at Hicksville Gurdwara in New York also accused ambassador Sandhu for India’s role in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was President of Surrey Gurdwara and the coordinator for Canadian Chapter of the Khalistan Referendum,” he further said.
Khalistani terrorist Nijjar was shot dead by masked men at a parking lot in Canada’s British Columbia. Months later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged the role of Indian agents in the killing, sparking a massive diplomatic row. India has trashed the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”. In recent remarks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said India is not ruling out an investigation but wants Canada to provide evidence backing its allegations.
Earlier this month, Financial Times reported that US authorities had thwarted a conspiracy to kill Pannun, leader of Khalistani organisation Sikhs for Justice, on American soil. Asked about the report, the White House said the US is “treating a reported plot to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil with utmost seriousness” and has raised the issue with the Indian government “at the senior-most levels”. White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Indian authorities had “expressed surprise and concern” in the matter and “stated that activity of this nature was not their policy”.
Responding to questions, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told the media, “India takes such inputs seriously since it impinges on our own national security interests as well. Issues in the context of US inputs are already being examined by relevant departments.”
(Bureau Report with Media Inputs).