Canada: Temple in Toronto desecrated with pro-Khalistan, anti-India graffiti

Jan 30, 2023

A temple in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was desecrated as pro-Khalistan and anti-India graffiti was spray-painted on a wall in the early hours on Monday. 

The vandalisation of the Gauri Shankar Mandir occurred deep in the night and was discovered by temple authorities on Monday morning following which they informed the Peel Regional Police (PRP). Investigators from the PRP visited the temple twice, while the chief of police also called the temple officials. 

This is the third such instance of a temple in the Toronto region being desecrated within the past nine months, while similar instances have also been reported from the United States, and more recently, in Australia. 

India’s high commission in Ottawa has already formally communicated its concern over the incident to Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry. India’s consulate in Toronto tweeted, “We strongly condemn defacing of Gauri Shankar Mandir in Brampton, a symbol of Indian heritage, with anti-India graffiti. The hateful act of vandalism has deeply hurt sentiments of Indian community in Canada. We have raised our concerns on the matter with Canadian authorities.” 

Temple president Dhirendra Tripathi told the Hindustan Times that the graffiti was sprayed on to the wall at the rear of the building housing the temple and was later covered and then painted over by volunteers, though it remains partially visible. 

“People will be angry because this is an emotional issue,” he said of the community’s reaction to the latest such incident of this kind. While the front of the building does have security cameras installed, the rear does not have such coverage. 

Chandra Arya, MP for the ruling Liberal Party, tweeted that this was the “latest in attacks on Hindu temples in Canada by anti-Hindu and anti-India groups”. 

“From hatred on social media, now physical attacks on Hindu temples, what next? I call on govt at levels in Canada to start taking this seriously,” he added. 

Expressing outrage, the National Alliance of Indo-Canadians tweeted that it “‘denounces continued attack on Hindu places of worship by #Khalistani extremists with impunity, reflective of lawlessness. Extremists are emboldened to freely engage in #hatecrimes.” 

Reacting to the latest incident, Brampton resident Vijay Jain, who lives close to the temple, said, “This is happening now. The concern within the community is that Hindu temples are becoming soft targets, they are very vulnerable. Action from police has not been enough.” 

In July last year, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, located at the Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill, was similarly defaced. The 20-foot tall bronze statue was situated in the temple’s Peace Park. Weeks later, in September, an episode of such vandalisation occurred at the front entrance to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto. 

Each incident attracted a strong protest from India. However, no arrests of the perpetrators have yet been reported by local police. 

As had happened earlier, a video of the incident was posted on social media by purportedly pro-Khalistan handles and amplified by pro-Pakistan users.