HTLS | ‘There’s room for diplomacy’: Jaishankar on India-Canada row | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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HTLS | ‘There’s room for diplomacy’: Jaishankar on India-Canada row

Nov 05, 2023 04:43 PM IST

EAM Jaishankar said freedom of speech and expression cannot be a licence to advocate violence and intimidation or to propagate separatism, extremism and worse

External affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday that there is still room for diplomacy to address the diplomatic row between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar and the two sides need to find a balance in the matter.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Saturday. (HT Photo)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Saturday. (HT Photo)

The problem faced by India is that activities such as violence and intimidation have been justified in the name of freedoms, which have also become a licence to propagate separatism and extremism, Jaishankar said during a conversation with HT editor-in-chief R Sukumar at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.

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The diplomatic row was triggered by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusation in September about the potential involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Nijjar, who was gunned down in the parking lot of a gurdwara in the Canadian town of Surrey.

Both sides expelled a senior diplomat each and Indian subsequently suspended visa services for Canadian citizens. New Delhi also sought parity in mutual diplomatic presence, which resulted in Canada withdrawing 41 diplomats and their family members from India.

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Asked how the two sides could find a solution to the row, Jaishankar said: “I feel that there is room for diplomacy here. I know that my counterpart in Canada has also expressed that same position. So, we have been in touch. My hope certainly would be that we find a way.”

Sovereignty and sensitivity cannot be “one-way streets”, and India is willing to talk to Canada about its legitimate concerns, he said. “But it cannot be that a conversation is completely dismissive of my interests and my sensitivities, and I think we need balance,” he added.

Jaishankar mooted an overall proposition that could apply to Canada and all other countries. “Which is that there are many countries where there is freedom of speech and expression, including India. But that cannot be a licence to advocate violence and intimidation or to propagate separatism, extremism and worse,” he said.

“The problem that we have faced is really that we have seen activities which have been justified in the name of freedoms. Now, I have a very simple smell test for every country in the world – which is if you think that is right, would you like that to be done to you? And mostly I don’t get an answer,” he added.

The conversation on such issues has been going on for a long time. “I do think it’s important to discuss this,” Jaishankar said.

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