External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has claimed that Canada, which the Centre branded a safe haven for terrorists last week, harbours extremist groups and that India has expressed its worries about this to the United States.
The remarks are being made in the midst of a simmering dispute between India and Canada, which was prompted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s last week assertion that “Indian government agents” were responsible for the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.
The minister made the remarks in answer to a query on Friday at a talk at the Hudson Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC.
“The Canadian Prime Minister made some allegations, initially privately and then publicly, and our response to him, both in private and public, was that what he was alleging was not consistent with our policy. And that if he or his government had anything relevant and specific that they would like us to look into, we were open to looking at it. That’s where that conversation is at this point of time,” he said.
Ramping up his attack on the Canadian government, the minister said, “Then it became dormant but, in the last few years, it has come back into play because of what we consider to be a very permissive Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremists, people who openly advocate violence. And they have been given operating space in Canada because of the compulsions of Canadian politics.”
“For Americans, perhaps, Canada looks very different but it depends where the shoe pinches. For us it has certainly been a country where organised crime from India mixed with trafficking in people, mixed with secessionism, violence, terrorism – it’s a very toxic combination of issues and people who have found operating space there. So, a lot of our tensions with Canada, which well preceded what Mr Trudeau said, actually come out of that,” he added.
According to Mr. Jaishankar, the current state of affairs has forced India to cease visa services in the nation because Indian diplomats feel uneasy visiting the embassy and consulates in Canada and are openly threatened.
The minister acknowledged that he had discussed these concerns with Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Pressed for details of the meetings, Mr Jaishankar said, “Let’s put it this way, they, obviously shared US views and assessments on this whole situation and I explained to them, at some length, the concerns which I had. Hopefully, we both came out of those meetings better informed.”
Justin Trudeau declared that Canada is still dedicated to forging better connections with India during a speech in Montreal on Thursday.
“India is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player. And as we presented with our Indo-Pacific strategy, just last year, we’re very serious about building closer ties with India,” Canada-based National Post quoted him as saying.
“At the same time, obviously, as a rule of law country, we need to emphasise that India needs to work with Canada to ensure that we get the full facts of this (the Nijjar killing) matter,” National Post quoted Trudeau as saying.
Nijjar, the leader of the outlawed Khalistan Tiger Force, was assassinated on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.