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Presence of Indian diplomat in Surrey sparks protest following murder of prominent Sikh leader

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Surrey, B.C. -

Dozens of members of the Lower Mainland’s Sikh community gathered to protest the presence of an Indian diplomat in Surrey on Friday night.

India’s High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar was the keynote speaker at a Surrey Board of Trade event inside Guildford’s Sheraton Hotel.

But outside, hundreds of protesters were accusing him of the high-profile murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent pro-Khalistan activist who was shot dead outside of the Surrey gurdwara where he served as president last summer.

"From day one, we were saying India is behind this,” said Bhupinder Hothi, the general secretary of Guru Nanak Gurdwara.

In September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons that there was credible intelligence suggesting India was involved.

The comments sparked serious tensions between the two governments.

“If our own prime minister is telling us these are the allegations, this is what’s happening, then why wouldn’t we all believe him?”

said protester Virpal Gill.

“Why wouldn’t we protest against a murderer who’s walking in our own community?”

But Trudeau never named Kumar or any other Indian officials while making the accusations.

And the Indian government has strongly denied any involvement in Nijjar’s murder, which remains unsolved.

Hothi says their anger goes beyond Nijjar’s murder, saying other Sikhs pushing for an independent Khalistan state are being targeted.

“The message is, ‘Stop killing Sikhs around the world,’” he said.

“We’re just doing freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Canada. We’re allowed to do that.”

The protest was mostly peaceful throughout, but at one point demonstrators began aggressively denying vehicles entry to the property. This sparked some tense moments between a few protesters and police officers.

Surrey RCMP had a heavy presence both inside and outside of the building.

CTV News reached out to Mounties for information about any arrests that may have resulted from the protest, but has not received a response. 

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