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US: Indian envoy Taranjit Singh Sandhu heckled by Khalistani supporters at New York gurdwara

According to videos emerging on social media, Sandhu was heckled by supporters of the pro-Khalistani movement, who asked him questions about designated terrorists Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. They were escorted out of the gurdwara by other Sikhs.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New York Published on: November 27, 2023 12:36 IST
Indian envoy to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu at Hicksville
Image Source : TARANJIT SINGH SANDHU/X Indian envoy to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu at Hicksville Gurdwara, Long Island, 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.

"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.

According to sources, a few supporters of the Khalistani movement tried to heckle the Indian envoy by making statements about terrorists Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, after he received a warm welcome at the Hicksville Gurdwara. During the event, Sandhu assured the members of the Sikh community that Indian diplomats would provide all help and support to them.

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. 

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 activities in the US

It is important to mention that Sandhu's recent brush with Khalistani supporters comes amid a rise in such extremist activities in countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, the US and Australia. The US witnessed a shocking incident when Khalistani extremists set off an arson attack on the Indian consulate in San Francisco in July.

Prior to that, the Indian consulate was also attacked in March, after which India registered a 'strong protest' with the US officials and called for effective measures so that such activities do not occur in the future.

Sandhu is also the second envoy to be heckled by pro-Khalistani supporters in a span of two months. Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Vikram Doraiswami was prevented from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow, Scotland on Albert Drive in late September.

A video was posted on the Instagram handle of 'Sikh Youth UK', in which a man blocked Doraiswami from entering the Glasgow Gurdwara in Scotland and said, "...They are hurting Sikhs in Canada and other places, every Sikh should protest against any Indian Ambassador as we did here in Glasgow."

Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the US shared some inputs pertaining to the nexus between organized criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others. "The inputs are a cause of concern for both countries and they decided to take necessary follow-up action," said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

This came after Pannun, the leader of the banned Khalistani organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) threatened the Indian government and Air India to blow up a flight on November 19. Reports emerged that the US thwarted a plan to allegedly assassinate Pannun and informed India of the concerns over the matter.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | US: Indian diaspora panel seeks to include Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Pannun and SFJ on no-fly list

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