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Ministry of external affairs made 'no formal request' to Canada

india Updated: Aug 30, 2013 21:34 IST
Manpreet Randhawa
Manpreet Randhawa
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The ministry of external affairs made no formal request to the Canadian government seeking security for Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal during his proposed official visit to Canada in September, it is learnt.

"We never received a formal request for security, so such a request could not have been refused," said Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, spokesperson of Canada's department of foreign affairs trade and development (DFATD), on Wednesday in response to a query from Vancouver-based Radio India.

This revelation flies in the face of the official communication sent by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to the Punjab government suggesting that the Canadian authorities might not provide security matching the threat perception to Sukhbir in the wake of foreign-based Sikh radicals' high-decibel opposition to his first official trip to the Maple country.

Sukhbir called off his Canada visit last week, citing the Canadian authorities' refusal to take care of security concerns flagged by the MEA. He had expressly voiced his disappointment, recalling how the Punjab government had provided a full security cover to Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper during his visit to Amritsar last year.

In a communique to the Punjab chief secretary on August 6, Vikram K Doraiswami, MEA, joint secretary, had spelt out a detailed assessment on the various security concerns in the wake of discussions with the Canadian government as well as the Indian consulates in the cities on Sukhbir's itinerary.

The MEA had said that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) provided security cover to "a visiting dignitary only if he or she is an international protectee and is so recognised by the government of Canada."

"In our high commission's experience, such security has not been provided even when sought in a number of cases for our cabinet-level dignitaries," said the communique.

(Above) A file photo of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Punjab deputy chief
minister Sukhbir Singh Badal (R). HT photo

So the question is: Did MEA make a formal request to its Canadian counterpart seeking security for Sukhbir?

Deputy CM's media adviser Jangveer Singh says the state government made a specific request to both the MEA and the ministry of home affairs (MHA) that the RCMP should provide the security cover to Sukhbir during his visit to Canada as he is covered under the category of Z+ security cover in India.

"I am sure the MEA must have routed our request through the Canadian consulate before making an assessment that there is a threat perception to the deputy chief minister from the radical elements," said Singh, adding that the protocol did not allow the Punjab government to take up such security matters directly with the foreign governments.

Sources revealed that even Intelligence Bureau, in its report to the MEA and MHA, also clearly mentioned that there was a threat perception to Sukhbir during his visit to Canada and hence he would require adequate security.

The MEA also said that even if the security was provided, Canadian police authorities would not intervene in preventing protesters from displaying black flags and placards in front of events at which dignitaries were present.

The MEA said such protests were organised during the visit of a senior cabinet minister in March 2010 without mentioning the name of Kamal Nath.

"The Canadian high commissioner here and the Canadian Foreign Office have separately confirmed that no immunities can be offered against any civil suit that may be filed against the deputy chief minister anywhere in Canada," said the MEA in its communique.