Surrey RCMP say participants in Indian farmers rally can use ‘Khalistan’ signs

SURREY RCMP Sgt. Elenore Sturko, Media Relations Officer, has clarified to The VOICE that their officer was not trying to tell the Indian farmers rally organizers what they could or could not say during their event.

Some angry South Asians informed this newspaper last weekend that during a discussion with Jas Johal (“RCMP Constable & Commissioner in Charge of Community Engagement and Events”) regarding a massive rally that was planned to be held last Sunday from Surrey to the Indian Consulate General in downtown Vancouver, they were told not to display any Khalistan signs.

According to the minutes of the meetings sent to this newspaper: “Signs should be Farmer/Kisaan Support Related Only. Nothing offensive, nothing political, no Khalistan etc. This is the wrong platform for those messages. Stay focused and on the track with the Kisaan Movement only.”

“Does this make any sense to you? The RCMP advising protestors what to say and what not?” an angry South Asian wrote to the VOICE.

But Sturko told The VOICE: “Our officer was not telling anyone what they should not or cannot do – he was only suggesting that they try to avoid conflict – as there has been a few incidents of conflicts between participants in some of the past events.”

The meeting for “Protocols/Guidelines to Follow During Rallies & Protests in the City of Surrey” took place on December 28 by Zoom video and phone conferencing.

According to the minutes: “Under Constitutional and Charter Rights we have the Right to Peaceful Protests, but there is also a Notwithstanding Clause if the Harm outweighs the right to protest. In person events and community-based gatherings as defined in the Public Health Order are suspended at this time in BC. Rallies/Protests are not supported by the City of Surrey, Bylaw, Health Authorities and RCMP right now, however, because of the importance of the cause, some members are taking responsibility of working with organizers to make sure safety measures are being followed, to allow such rallies to continue. If protocols/guidelines are not followed, the rallies/protests can be stopped all together. So, let’s continue to work together, in order to avoid such.”

Instructions included:

* No revving of engines, no hanging out of sunroofs, no loud music when in the parking lot from the vehicles allowed.

* Seat belts must be worn at all times, when vehicle is moving. Drivers cannot be recording on cell phones when driving.

* No signs should be posted on the front windshields, driver and passenger side window. No flags in front of the vehicles. It is considered obstruction of driver’s view. In case of an accident ICBC will not support the driver.