‘Act against pro-Khalistan elements targeting diplomats’: India tells Canada
The sharp message came against the backdrop of the free fall in India-Canada relations since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed on Monday to a “potential link” between Indian government agents and the slaying of Nijjar, a designated terrorist
India on Thursday bluntly told Canada to act against pro-Khalistan elements with links to organised crime that are targeting Indian diplomats, even as it asserted that Ottawa hasn’t shared any specific information to back up the allegation of Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular media briefing that Canada needs to act on “very specific evidence” shared by India about criminal activities by terrorists and extremists based on Canadian soil. He pointed to Pakistan’s involvement in funding and supporting these elements in Canada.
The sharp message came against the backdrop of the free fall in India-Canada relations since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed on Monday to a “potential link” between Indian government agents and the slaying of Nijjar, a designated terrorist.
New Delhi has dismissed Trudeau’s allegation, and Bagchi said India has informed the Canadian side it is “willing to look at any specific information” provided about the case.
“We should look at the larger issue of terrorism and...also the fact that it is being funded and supported...for some time from our Western neighbour Pakistan. The issue of safe havens and places to operate is being provided abroad, including in Canada,” Bagchi said.
“We would expect that is the main focus. The question is, do we have the political will to address terrorism, or we want to justify it and condone it.”
Terrorists and secessionists linked to organised crime seem to “have a free run” and India expects the Canadian government to act against them, Bagchi said. Asked if Trudeau’s accusation can affect India’s international image, he replied: “If you’re talking about reputational damage, if there’s one any country that needs to look at this, I think it is Canada and its growing reputation as a safe haven for terrorists, extremists and organised crime.”
Canadian authorities should show sensitivity to “posters threatening assassination and incitement to violence” against Indian diplomats and attacks on diplomatic premises, he added.
Bagchi said no specific information has been shared by Canada on Nijjar’s case. “We have conveyed to the Canadian side that we are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us. But so far, we have not received any such specific information,” he said.
In contrast, India has made extradition requests or sought other assistance in connection with some 25 individuals allegedly involved in terrorist and secessionist activities in Canada. “We’ve been requesting and the response has not been helpful at all,” he Bagchi. “We would want the Canadian government not to give them safe havens. They should take action there (in Canada) against those facing terrorism charges or send them here (to India) to face justice.”
Asked if a reference to “politically-condoned hate crimes” in an advisory issued on Wednesday meant Canadian authorities had not responded with alacrity in such matters, Bagchi replied: “They didn’t respond with alacrity. I would go further and say they did not take [action] at all. It seems there is a feeling that these are part of freedom of expression...and these hate crimes are being condoned in...the political system.”
Bagchi also said India has briefed its Western partners on the issue of Nijjar’s killing. “We have been discussing this with them. We have conveyed our position and how we see these developments,” he said.