The members of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) walked out in protest from the Malayali Samajam event in Delta on Saturday, September 8 after its cofounder Gurpreet Singh was stopped from speaking at the behest of an Indian diplomat in Vancouver.
The IAPI delegates, including Singh, Parshotam Dosanjh, Navtej Johal, Rakesh Kumar and Amrit Diwana had gone there to show solidarity with the people of Kerala where nearly 500 human lives were lost due to massive floods. In all, they had raised $1,375 for flood relief in Kerala, and went to the event to present the money collected from members and supporters of the group to the organizers.
Singh was trying to convey that they were there to show solidarity with the people of Kerala, which is being meted out step-motherly treatment by the right wing government in Delhi. When he pointed out that the idea of India is under threat from the Hindutva forces, the Indian Consul H. Venkatachalam interrupted and threatened to leave if Singh wasn’t stopped.
The organizers then cut him off, following which the IAPI members decided to walk out. However, on their way out of the venue, they handed over the envelope containing the donation to the organizers.
IAPI condemns the action of the Indian diplomat and calls it an attack on free expression.
IAPI stands for a liberal and secular India, and was formed in response to growing attacks on religious minorities in the country. It had recently passed a resolution to condemn those unfairly linking the tragedy in Kerala with beef eating and a campaign seeking the right of women to enter Sabarimala temple.