08 Feb 2021: Indo-Canadians, supporting recent farm reforms, threatened and abused
With the farmers' protests becoming a global phenomenon, comments both for and against the reforms have been dominating social media.
But in Canada, taking the Indian government's side, questioning the rationale behind the raging agitation, and speaking against the alleged involvement of Khalistanis, has invited threats and abuses for Indo-Canadians.
Though police complaints have been filed, the victims are living in constant fear.
Abuse: After he commented on Facebook, victim was inundated with calls
Two people living in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto, received abuses and threats after commenting in support of the pro-market reforms on Facebook.
One of the victims, Mohan, told HT, that he received 70 phone calls in a week.
"These are abusive, threatening, full of religious hate. They include threats to my family, they say, 'We know your address.'," Mohan revealed.
Rape threats: One caller threatened to rape another victim's wife, daughters
The other victim was identified as Jay (both victims chose to only use the first name fearing for their safety).
Among the numerous calls which Jay received, one from a "warrior" was laced with rape threats for his wife and daughters.
"They abused me, said, 'We have seen your house.' This cannot be tolerated," he told HT. He has filed a police complaint.
Details: In another case, miscreants hurled eggs, tomatoes at victim's house
Nearly 3,000 km away from the Greater Toronto Area, a person named Vinay faced a more dreadful experience in Alberta.
Vinay informed the daily that he received 100 calls daily for 10 odd days; some miscreants threw eggs and tomatoes at his home, and one day a person knocked on his door looking for him.
A hate crime complaint has been lodged.
Aftermath: Separately, fear drove another 90-year-old to remain in India
In another incident, a 90-year-old astrologer was threatened, a person active within the Indo-Canadian community in Calgary told HT. The victim was in India when he was vilified and has still not returned to Canada.
One of the victims blamed the rhetoric of a few Punjabi-language media for rising Hinduphobia.
Evidently, these cases have grown substantially after the Republic Day violence.
Sentiment: Unsurprisingly, a sense of unease crept into the Indo-Canadian community
Though the agencies have gotten to work, the Indo-Canadian community is worried.
About the sentiments in the diaspora, Azad Kaushik, President of the National Alliance of Indo-Canadians, said law-abiding Indo-Canadians are the worst-affected and are questioning the events in their adopted homeland.
The support lent by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also played a part in the current divisive atmosphere, he claimed.
Fear: 'Hinduphobics now have a political shelter, situation worse than 1980s'
Mohan's comments gave an insight into the fear that took over. He called the situation worse than the 1980s when the Khalistani movement was at its peak. It was in 1985 that Canadian Khalistani terrorists bombed an Air India flight, killing 329.
"I wasn't here then but I feel this is worse than the 1980s. Hinduphobics now have political shelter. Our safety is in jeopardy," he added.
Details: Indian government is also convinced Khalistanis have infiltrated protest
It's worth highlighting that the Indian government has also expressed concern over the involvement of Khalistani elements in the farmers' agitation.
Last week, Delhi Police asserted that the much-talked-about toolkit was created by a Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF).
Further, a cop also claimed that a Khalistani leader recently announced that the "battle began with farmers' protests, but it won't end with it."