India on Saturday strongly condemned an assault, including the use of bear spray, on a 17-year-old Sikh high school student in Canada's British Columbia province this week and urged local authorities to investigate the incident and take prompt action against the perpetrators.
The incident took place on September 11 when the Sikh student, who has not been named, was on his way home from school in Kelowna.
Kelowna Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement on September 11 that the attack occurred just before 4 pm at a bus stop at the intersection of Rutland Road and Robson Road in the Okanagan city.
'Just prior to the bear spray incident, there was an altercation on the bus resulting in those involved being directed off of the bus. After exiting the bus, a second incident occurred where the suspect male deployed bear spray on the victim,' the statement said.
The Consulate General of India in Vancouver has strongly condemned the assault.
'@cgivancouver strongly condemns assault on an Indian national in Kelowna and requests Canadian authorities to investigate the incident and take prompt action against the perpetrators.@HCI_Ottawa @MEAIndia,' the Consulate said on Saturday in a post on X.
On September 13, Kelowna RCMP arrested the young male involved in the incidents that took place on and off a BC Transit bus at the intersection of Rutland Rd S and Robson Rd E on September 11.
Investigators will be conducting video analysis and reviewing additional evidence to determine what transpired on the bus prior to all parties being directed off the bus...There is no doubt that the victim was bear sprayed and assaulted by the accused; this has been made quite clear, RCMP said in a statement.
The World Sikh Organisation of Canada released a statement condemning the attack and said the Sikh student could not understand why he was attacked in this way. They also say the victim was a newcomer to Canada and was now afraid to return to Rutland Senior Secondary School, where he studied, or take public transit, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Kelowna City Councillor Mohini Singh told CBC News that the student had only been in the city for around five months and spoke little English. She called the attack 'totally unacceptable'.
"He loves going to school. He has a great rapport with his teachers. No problem there," she said.
"He is absolutely traumatised. He's in a state of shock."
Singh said she went to visit the teenager, and that he was hardly able to lift his head from his chest and only spoke a few words.
"This has sent shockwaves through the community," the councillor said.
"The Indo-Canadian community is shocked by this ... this is absolutely despicable."
It's the second attack on a Sikh student in the central Interior city this year. On March 17, international student Gagandeep Singh was also attacked as he left a B.C. Transit bus.
At the time, RCMP said investigators were consulting with their hate crimes unit.