Political space to anti-India forces in Canada is main issue: Top Indian diplomat | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Political space to anti-India forces in Canada is main issue: Top Indian diplomat

Jun 12, 2024 09:11 PM IST

Vinay Kwatra’s remarks came against the backdrop of two rallies organised by pro-Khalistan elements in Vancouver and Brampton

NEW DELHI: The main issue affecting India’s relations with Canada is the “political space” offered by that country to anti-India forces that promote extremism and violence and this has been repeatedly conveyed to the Canadian side, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Wednesday.

FILE - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, walks past India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's cremation site, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, File) (AP FILE)
FILE - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, walks past India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's cremation site, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, File) (AP FILE)

Kwatra’s remarks came against the backdrop of fresh concerns in India over two recent rallies organised by pro-Khalistan elements in the Canadian cities of Vancouver and Brampton that featured floats depicting the 1984 assassination of former premier Indira Gandhi.

Bilateral ties have been at an all-time low since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged Indian agents were involved in the killing of Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June last year. India dismissed the accusation as “absurd” and said the Canadian side has provided no evidence to back up the claim.

“I think the main issue with regard to Canada continues to be the political space that Canada provides to anti-India elements which advocate extremism and violence and we have repeatedly conveyed our deep concerns to them, and we expect them to take strong action,” Kwatra told a media briefing.

The foreign secretary was responding to a question on Trudeau’s recent remarks about a surge of right-wing forces in democracies around the world. Trudeau made the comments following the gains made by right-wing parties in elections to the European Union’s Parliament, though he didn’t specifically name any country.

Referring to India’s just concluded general election, Kwatra added: “I really don’t want to say anything on what somebody else thinks how democracy should function but our democracy was in full display with enormous evidence to be seen.

He described the Indian election as the largest democratic exercise in the history of humankind, which was joined by 640 million voters. The “vibrancy of India’s democracy was truly recognised and appreciated across the world”, he said.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said, “We have seen around the world a rise of populist, right-wing forces in just about every democracy...It is of concern to see political parties choosing to instrumentalise anger, fear, division, anxiety.”

The Canadian PM said his approach had been “to respond to it, to understand it and to look to solve it...I continue to be convinced that Canadians are thoughtful about the challenges we’re facing and ready to see them solved rather than just allow themselves to have their anger amplified without any solutions offered”.

Canada’s high commissioner Cameron MacKay and two Canadian ministers – public safety minister Dominic LeBlanc and Anita Anand, president of the Treasury Board – have denounced the floats depicting the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

MacKay conveyed Canada’s position in a post on X that said: “Canada’s position is clear: The promotion of violence is never acceptable in Canada.”

The external affairs ministry has not yet reacted to these latest protests featuring such provocative floats, though Indian high commissioner Sanjay Verma recently urged the Canadian government to take “exemplary action” against such public displays of violence and hatred.

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