The US, Canada and the UK on Saturday allowed Khalistan freedom rallies to take place despite India urging all these countries collectively and individually to not give space to such separatist elements and warning that it could also affect bilateral ties.
All countries have contended that freedom of expression is an article of faith for them given their commitment to democracy and they cannot stop such mobilisation if they are peaceful.
The biggest mobilisation was outside the Indian consulates in Toronto and San Francisco. In Toronto, where Khalistani supporters came in a long motorcade of cars with the signature yellow Khalistan flag, members of the diaspora also came out in protest against them and to symbolically defend the Indian diplomats; creating a situation where the two groups were lined up on opposite sides of the road.
There was a smaller mobilisation in London outside the Indian High Commission where the local authorities had beefed up security and also barb-wired the enclosure where the Indian Tricolour is placed to avoid a repeat of what happened in March when Khalistani supporters took down the flag and tried to set it afire.
Saturday’s rallies, called in different towns of the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, were preceded by an arson attack at the Indian consulate in San Francisco on July 2 and posters in all four countries identifying Indian diplomats as the killers of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar; essentially putting their safety at risk.