Mississauga temple vandalized with hateful graffiti


Published February 14, 2023 at 8:51 pm

ram mandir mississauga

Mayors Patrick Brown and Bonnie Crombie, and the Consulate General of India in Toronto, stated denunciations of the defacing of Mississauga’s Ram Mandir, which has been attacked in a manner akin to the defacing of another Hindu temple two weeks ago.

The top elected officials in Mississauga and Brampton both said that the Peel Regional Police are investigating.

Photos that have been widely circulated on social media, particularly Twitter, show that Ram Mandir’s outside walls bear black block-lettered graffiti with political slogans. One slogan criticized India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and another referred to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the slain Sikh separatist leader, as a “martyr,” Bhindranwale was killed in June 1984 when Indian military troops attacked the complex where the leader and his followers were amassed and had a weapons stockpile. (Indira Gandhi, the prime minister who ordered the attack, was assassinated months later.)

On Jan. 30, temple priests at Shri Gauri Shankar Mandir in Brampton also found graffiti on a wall that faces a major street. It contained the word Khalistan, which is related to a Sikh separatist movement that is calling for the state of Punjab to become an independent nation known as Khalistan.

Tens of thousands of Canadian Sikhs voted in September in a non-binding referendum on that very question.

In Canada, the province of Québec has twice held sovereignty referendums in 1980 and 1995. Both failed.

Brown: ‘Safe in their place of worship’

The Consulate General of India in Toronto called out the attack shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We strongly condemn the defacing of Ram Mandir in Mississauga with anti-India graffiti,” it wrote. “We have requested Canadian authorities to investigate the incident and take prompt action on perpetrators.”

Crombie tweeted that she was “angered by the hateful and divisive graffiti defacing” Ram Mandir.

“These blatant attacks are not reflective of our City and region’s diversity and will not be tolerated,” the mayor of Mississauga said.

Brown tagged Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah in his post. The Brampton mayor also noted that attacks on a house of worship get into the area of infringing on Canadian residents’ right to freedom of religion.

(The police) are taking this potential hate crime very seriously … they will find those responsible,” Brown wrote. “Religious freedom is a Charter right in Canada (and) we will do every thing we can to make sure everyone is safe in their place of worship.”

In late 2021, Brown called on 100 fellow mayors to consider donating to a legal fund that would help fight Québec’s Bill 21, the law that bans public employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. He said at the time that it was unfair to leave the defence of religious freedom to racialized communities.

The attacks in the two Peel Region cities are not the first. Last September, before the Khalistan referendum vote, there was graffiti spray-painted on the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Etobicoke. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill, Ont., was also defaced in July 2022. Gandhi was the Indian revolutionary who led a successful campaign for the independence of India from British rule, which was attained in 1947.

— with files from Karen Longwell; photo: Twitter

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