The proposed Khalistan referendum event, scheduled to be held at a Surrey school on September 10, has officially been canceled after concerns were raised over the use of violent imagery in promotional materials.
The board of trustees at Tamanwis Secondary School made the decision to revoke permission for the event following extensive concerns raised by numerous societies and organizations, including 40 societies that reached out to both the City of Surrey and the Provincial Government.
Ritinder Matthew, the Surrey school board’s associate director of communication, stated, “Earlier today, our district canceled a community rental of one of our schools due to a violation of our rental agreement. Promotional materials for the event featured images of our school, alongside images of a weapon. Despite repeated attempts to address the issue, the event organizers failed to remove these concerning images, and materials continued to be posted throughout Surrey and on social media.”
Matthew emphasized that the decision to cancel the event was based on a violation of the rental agreement and was not an endorsement or criticism of any political position.
The event had been organized as a “community event” and had rented the school’s hall. However, it sparked widespread concerns when organizers associated with Sikhs for Justice, led by Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, displayed posters featuring Talwinder Singh Parmar, the mastermind of the 1985 Air India Flight 182 bombing, alongside images of weapons throughout the city.
Local community groups, including the Concerned Residents of Surrey and the Indo-Canadian Workers Association (ICWA), called for the event’s cancellation. ICWA expressed concerns about the divisive nature of the referendum campaign and its potential to harm communal harmony in the Indo-Canadian community.
Mayor Brenda Locke, while condemning the presence of posters depicting AK-47s, noted that the Surrey City Council had no legal authority over the use of school premises by the Surrey School District.
A statement from the Concerned Group of Residents revealed that event organizers had fraudulently booked Tamanwis School without disclosing the nature of the event, which raised concerns about the sovereignty and unity of another nation.
The display of posters with violent imagery had stirred widespread dismay among local residents, with some parents expressing hesitancy about sending their children to school. The cancellation of the event has been welcomed by many residents who emphasize the importance of maintaining peace and harmony in the community.