Brampton Mayor, Faith Leaders and Police Condemn Vandalism of Hindu Temples in GTA
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown joined religious leaders on Wednesday in condemning recent acts of vandalism against Hindu temples in the greater Toronto area.
Vandals recently attacked the Ram Mandir Hindu temples in Mississauga on February 14 and Shri Gauri Shankar Mandir in Brampton on January 30. Anti-Hindu and anti-India graffiti were painted black on the outer walls of the temples in both cases.
Peel Regional Police consider the graffiti hate-motivated and say the incidents are linked.
In Mississauga, graffiti on the temple labeled Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a terrorist. In Brampton, the graffiti read ‘Down with India’.
“Any act of intimidation, vandalism or hatred of a place of worship is despicable,” Brown told reporters at a news conference in Brampton.
“And what I’ve seen all over GTA over the past few months has been very cowardly, disappointing hatred of the Hindu community,” Brown said.
“Our children shouldn’t see this. You shouldn’t see hatred in our country, city or region,” he added.
“I think it’s important that we stand up as leaders and tell every community faced with hate that there is no tolerance for it.”
The police have not determined the motive
Police said they have not yet determined a motive for the two hate incidents, but members of the community believe it has to do with an ongoing struggle by Sikh separatists in northern India.
The Peel region is one of several international locations where the Indian Disapora voted in a referendum on whether there should be an independent Sikh state in northern India called Khalistan in India’s Punjab region.
The referendum is a non-binding vote aimed at gaining international support for Khalistan.
Peel Deputy Police Chief Mark Dapat said police have zero tolerance for hate-motivated crimes. He urged anyone with information to come forward.
“Absolutely, the feeling is that this is hate motivated. That’s why it happened. Only the people who committed these crimes will be able to explain exactly what the motive was,” he said.
Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, the founder of Ram Mandir and a leader of the Hindu community, told reporters that the vandalism was disrupting the peace of the community.
“What we are seeing today in Canada and in this region are blatant acts of anti-Hinduism, and it’s getting to a point where we can’t just say we’re going to let it go. We have to take a stand,” Sharma said.
“The police are doing an excellent job. As of this morning, they were still at our temple downloading footage to try to find the culprits.”
Everyone is invited to the Mississauga Temple Friday evening from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to help clean up the graffiti.
“Flushing away the hate is something I’ve shaped and I believe will improve the situation. We won’t fight fire with fire, but fighting fire with water is the only way to put it out,” he said.
Hindu worshiper Naresh Thakur, a devotee of Shri Gauri Shankar Mandir, said he was appalled by the threat to his people.
“Once you came to the temple to pray and see that, it wasn’t nice, it was quite painful,” he said.
“They are certainly anti-Hindus when targeting the place of worship. Obviously I don’t see them from any religion per se.”
Thakur said he believes whoever was behind the vandalism supports a separate Sikh state in India. He doesn’t think it could be a Sikh person because he said no person of the faith would attack any other place of worship.