Days after an Indian student, Satwinder Singh, (28), was killed in Canada, an advisory was issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to Indian students studying in Canada on Friday saying that there has been a sharp rise in incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada and Indian students are advised to exercise due caution, remain vigilant and may also register with the High Commission of India in Canada.
Contrary to this advisory there is another side of the story also where people are feeling unsafe because of the lawlessness created by some Punjabi student groups in some areas of Canada where there number is more. Even in some places both native and long-settled Punjabis avoid going where such groups are quite active and infamous for their unruly activities.
Singh, who was killed in a shooting incident at a shop in Milton, Southern Ontario, was working part-time after completing his course in Global Business Management.
While most students in Canada said that they feel safe, others said that this advice by the Indian government is highly appreciable and will also create awareness among them. They said that they will also get themselves registered at the portal of the Indian government.
Quebec-based Indian student Dilpreet Singh, who is pursuing his studies in Network and Internet Security said that most students don’t know that they need to register with the High Commission and the Consulates General to better connect with Indian citizens in Canada in times of emergency.
He added that in the past couple of years, several incidents of crime against Indian students have been reported but at the same time, some Indian students have also taken to the path of crimes and this defames the entire student community.
He said that crimes such as snatching, drunken driving and even murder cases are registered against several Indian students mainly in areas where their number is high but in Quebec, such cases are very less.
“Canada is very safe for students and this advisory will help both Indian and Canadian governments to get the real picture about crimes,” he said.
Harmanbir Kaur, who is studying business administration in Ontario, said that this comes as an assurance and “we now know that our country is concerned about us”.
Anupreet Kaur, a Toronto-based student, said, “I never feel that I am outside my country. Canada feels like home as the people here have welcomed us with open arms. But Indian students should also restrain from indulging in any criminal activities.”
Another Toronto-based student who didn’t want to be named said, “Indian students come here and study and then take part in the jobs that the Canadian students could do. Naturally, they don’t like it and sometimes indulge in petty crimes or attack the Indian students.”
In the recent incident, a video showed how 40 Indian youth and several students indulged in hooliganism in strawberry Hills (Surrey in Canada) last week and even they intimidated a cop there when they were issued a notice for creating lawlessness. As one of the Indian car drivers was roaming around Strawberry Hill Plaza playing loud music for three hours and when he was stopped, several Punjabi youths gathered and started intimidating him. In this case, the investigation is going on and they may face serious charges.
“We have stopped going in strawberry hills because the incident of teasing and lawlessness by the Punjabi students are quite common there,” said an Indian girl student Gurpreet Kaur, adding that several natives are feeling uneasy with their behaviour.
Even a Punjabi women Constable in Canadian Police Sarbjit Sangha in her interview with a Punjabi Canadian Channel ‘Prime Asia TV’ told that Punjabis have contributed a lot to the Canadian economy and some of those who indulge in such activities earn a bad name the entire community. She confirmed about receiving complaints of Punjabi youth indulging in lawlessness has become quite common in a few areas because of which several Punjabi people avoid going in that area.