Do not normalise what is taking place in Canada, says Jaishankar
Hindustan Times|October 01, 2023
Even as he made his most scathing comments about the “climate of violence” in Canada, its lack of responsiveness to Indian extradition requests and the relentless threats against Indian diplomats and diplomatic facilities, external affairs minister S Jaishankar reiterated that India hasn’t closed its doors and is willing to look at any “relevant and specific” information Ottawa may want to share on its allegation.
Speaking to reporters in the American capital on Friday-Jaishankar was in New York to attend the UN General Assembly for six days and then in Washington DC for bilateral engagements for three days the minister said that India did not want to suspend its visa operations in Canada but had to do so because of this environment and threat of violence. He also asked whether the world, or any other country, would have accepted this situation, pointedly saying he can’t recall India having to deal with such a situation necessitating visa suspension in any other country, let alone a G7 and a Commonwealth member.
The minister’s comments come in the wake of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s allegation of possible links of “agents” of the government of India to the killing of a Canadian citizen, a man India had designated a terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, on Canadian soil. India had rejected the allegation as absurd and Jaishankar, both in New York and DC, has said that India has told Canada that this isn’t a part of government of India policy but New Delhi was open to looking at what Canada shares.
Responding to a range of questions on Canada’s allegations, Jaishankar said that India did not want the incident to be tested in isolation. “The ongoing problem really revolves around the permissiveness in regard to terrorism, extremism and violence. And this permissiveness is reflected in the fact that some important extradition requests have not been responded to from their side; in the fact that there are individuals and organisations who are clearly involved with violence and illegal activities in India who themselves declared it – I mean, it is not a secret and that they continue to carry on with their activities in Canada.”
And this problem, Jaishankar added, was reflected in the fact that Indian diplomatic missions and personnel have been “consistently and continuously intimidated in Canada” to the point where today it was “not safe” for them really to carry on with their with their work. “The fact that we have had to temporarily suspend our visa operations, it is not something we would have liked to do. It is just they made it very difficult for us to operate those services because our personnel are today insecure.”
The minister went on to underline there was a “a climate of violence, an atmosphere of intimidation” in Canada. “Just think about it. We have had smoke bombs thrown at the mission. We have had violence in front of our consulates. Individuals have been targeted and intimidated. There are posters put up about people. So, tell me, do you consider this normal? If this had happened to any other country, how would they react? Let’s not normalise what is happening in Canada,” Jaishankar said, questioning again the world would have accepted what was happening in Canada if it had happened anywhere else.
Reiterating that India’s doors weren’t shut, and if there was a requirement to look at something, India was open to doing so, he warned against any false equivalence and rejected suggestions that this required mutual confidence building. Instead, he said the issue was one of law and order, of conforming to the Vienna Convention (which lays out a protocol for treatment of diplomats and diplomatic personnel), and pointed out, once again, at the nexus between organised crime, violence, and secessionist forces in Canada.
‘AMONG SIKHS, THOSE WHO SPEAK OF VIOLENCE ARE ONLY A MINORITY’
External affairs minister S Jaishankar has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has consistently worked to address issues of the Sikh community and that Canada’s allegations and the controversy around it must not be conflated with a representative issue of the community but was linked to a small violent minority. Speaking to reporters in Washington DC, asked about the sense of insecurity in the Sikh community due to the controversy, Jaishankar said that in the past decade, the Modi government had consistently paid attention to issues of the community and addressed them.
“I don’t agree that these are representative issues of community. Those who are separatists and terrorists and speak of violence is a small minority. Don’t take it as a community issue. That would be a wrong interpretation of it,” Jaishankar said, adding it was important for all governments, including the US and Canadian government, to take an objective view of the situation. The statement comes amid a diplomatic row between India and Canada.
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