Told Canada not GOI policy, says S Jaishankar on Trudeau’s allegation
Jaishankar said if somebody gives me something specific, and it doesn’t have to be restricted to Canada but if there is an incident that’s an issue, as a government, I will look at it
India has told Canada that if it had anything “specific and relevant”, New Delhi will be open to looking at it, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said in his first comments about Canada’s allegation linking “agents” of the Indian government with a killing in Canada.
India, Jaishankar said, has also told Canada that this is not government of India policy.
Jaishankar also said there was a broader context. Canada had seen an increase in organised crime related to secessionist, extremism and violence, there had been threats against Indian diplomats and violence against diplomatic premises, and India had been “badgering” Canada and given it a lot of information about the “organised crime leadership” as well as terrorists.
In a conversation with former US ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, asked if he had a response to Canada’s allegations, Jaishankar said, “Yes, I do have a comment. I will share with you very frankly what we told the Canadians. One, we told the Canadians that this is not government of India (GOI) policy. Two, we told the Canadians, if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, let us know. We are open to looking at it.”
But Jaishankar then added that it was important to understand the context to get a complete picture. “You have to appreciate that in the last few years, Canada actually has seen a lot of organised crime relating to secessionist forces. Organised crime, extremism, violence, they are all very very deeply mixed up.”
Jaishankar said, at a time when there is talk about specifics and information, it had been India that had actually been “badgering” Canadians. “We have given them a lot of information about organised crime leadership which operates out of Canada. There are a large number of extradition requests. There are terrorist leaders who have been identified. There is an environment out there that is important to factor in if you have to understand what’s going on out there”, he said.
He said India’s concern has been that this environment had been “very “permissive” due to “political reasons”.
“We have a situation where our diplomats are threatened, our consulates have been attacked and often comments are made interfering in our politics. And a lot of it is justified as saying that’s how democracies work”, Jaishankar said.
Asked whether India would cooperate if Canada provided specific pieces of evidence, Jaishankar said, “If somebody gives me something specific, and it doesn’t have to be restricted to Canada but if there is an incident that’s an issue, as a government, I will look at it. Of course, I will look at it.”
As the floor opened up, a reporter asked the minister if Canada had given India documents, including evidence of intercepted diplomatic communication that Indian officials were aware of the attack to which Jaishankar said, “I have said that if somebody gives us specific or relevant information, we are prepared to look at it”.
Asked again if he had received those intercepted communications, “If I had, would I not be looking at it?”, he said.
Asked for his response to reports that intelligence was shared among Five Eyes nations (an intelligence network of US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) about the killing, and FBI’s reported warning to US Sikh leaders about credible threats they face, the minister said, “I am not part of the Five Eyes. I am certainly not part of the FBI. You are asking the wrong person.”