‘Canada is actually providing safe haven by covering up for the Khalistani terrorist activities calling it freedom of speech’.
Former Indian diplomats who have served across the globe have called for caution by the Justin Trudeau government so as not to push diplomatic ties between India and Canada into a full-blown disaster mode after events quickly spiraled out of control following the Canadian PM’s remarks about “credible allegation” against India in the killing of a Khalistani activist. The row erupted over the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar who was shot dead in Vancouver on 24 June.
Founder President of the Indo-American Friendship Association, New Delhi, Ambassador Surendra Kumar, who has served in Libya, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea & High Commissioner of India to Kenya, Swaziland and Malta, told The Sunday Guardian: “There are too many premature conclusions right now that need to be stemmed and things need to be resolved diplomatically. That said, the Canadian PM has bitten more than he can chew at this point.”
Kumar added: “Trudeau has made wild accusations of sensitive nature against the largest democracy in the world without offering any concrete evidence which he has repeatedly claimed are based on credible allegations.” “What is ‘credible allegation’?” he asked. “In court of law ‘credible evidence’ can be submitted, but nowhere can ‘credible’ allegation, for that is just allegation, hearsay, your word against mine, unless proven right.”
“A week has passed after Trudeau’s outburst, but no evidence has been shared through diplomatic channels, which is what is most needed to control the situation rather than interpolation from both sides with expulsion from both sides,” he added.
After media reports from Canada claimed that there are Indian officials’ communications on record in the Nijjar murder probe “provided by unnamed ally”, Ashok Sajjanhar, who was Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia, told The Sunday Guardian: “Where is the evidence, of this recording—done clandestinely or otherwise—the accusations against the Indian officials have to be proven?”
Kumar said: “They have to provide proof, submit dossiers to New Delhi through proper channels to take any investigation forward. This sharing of sound bytes, telling the press, speaking in House is not evidence.”
Kumar added: “Providing security to diplomatic missions and their diplomats and staff and their citizens of foreign origin is the responsibility of the Canadian government. t can’t allow attacks against the Indian High Commission / Consulates and Indian nationals and encourage fiery anti-India hate speeches and open display of slogans like: ‘Kill Indians’. Canada must uphold its obligations under the Vienna Convention.”
Sajjanhar called the Canadian claims as preposterous. “India respects all diplomatic principles, be it rule of law or not interfering in sovereign matter. In fact, as India has been at the receiving end of these particular issues especially from our western borders, so New Delhi would never complicate matters like this. We will definitely not interfere with the territorial integrity of another country.”
Relations are strained at this point, but the diplomatic channel is still open. “Like we went back and forth with the US for the Mumbai bombing accused, and Pakistan over so many terrorists. We exchanged dossiers and provided proof,” Kumar said. “So also has to be done by Ottawa.”
“The Indian government has been very reasonable, despite the fact that Canada has not taken up the matter progressively through proper channels, but made a sensational explosive declaration in Parliament despite such sensitive nature and without any evidence to back it up,” Sajjanhar added.
“Canada is actually providing safe haven by covering up for the Khalistani terrorist activities calling it ‘freedom of speech’, for throughout 2023, there has been escalation in threats issued against Indian envoys, violent protests outside the Indian High Commission in their various cities,” he added.
The inaction of the Trudeau government has fueled hate crimes, and Hinduphobia as in the threats issued by Sikhs for Justice’s G.S. Pannu, who holds dual citizenship of US and Canada, and has openly called for assassinations of Indian diplomats, said both diplomats. If we go back decades, during Indira Gandhi’s time when the Kanishka bombing happened, her government pressed for action to be taken, but the then Trudeau senior government did not and 346 lives were lost. “We have a legal treaty of extradition which they did not oblige to then and again now in Justin Trudeau’s time, we have seen the amount of Khalistani-pleasing activities he has undertaken—his family visit sometime back to Golden Temple and all. But despite that, his position is reportedly weak, all this pleasing is not going to work if you are harbouring terrorists on your soil. It is being written about Canada that it is turning into Canadaistan,” said Kumar.
Kumar added: “It is worth remembering that British Columbia in Canada has become the epicentre of wanted terrorists and Khalistani supporters. Though an extradition treaty between Canada and India exists, the Canadian government hasn’t extradited even one terrorist out of India’s list of 21 wanted terrorists who have been living in Canada freely for years.”
Sajjanhar said: “Canada is really rearing Frankenstein and soon they will themselves fall prey to it.”
Kumar added: “It is unfortunate that Trudeau has triggered a tit-for-tat row of expulsion of diplomats and downsizing of the missions’ strength and difficulties for ordinary visa seekers. Both countries should use existing diplomatic channels to share whatever information and evidence they have and expedite a probe and take steps to de-escalate the tension.”