In his fresh remarks on the diplomatic face-off with India, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the world will become “more dangerous” for everyone “if bigger countries can violate international law without consequences”.
Ties between New Delhi and Ottawa have been strained ever since Trudeau accused Indian agents of involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Canada’s British Columbia in June. He was chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and one of India’s most wanted terrorists. India has termed the allegations “absurd” and “motivated”.
The Canadian Prime Minister was addressing the media at the launch of a countrywide smart energy grid. Responding to a question on whether the US should take up the matter with India on Canada’s behalf, he said, “From the very beginning, when we learnt of credible allegations that agents of the Indian government are involved in the killing of a Canadian citizens on Canadian soil, we reached out to India to ask them to work with us in getting to the bottom of this matter. We also reached out to our friends and allies, like the United States, and others to work on these really serious violation of international law and sovereignty of a democracy. This is something we are taking very very seriously, we will continue to work with all partners as law enforcement and investigative agencies continue to do their work.”
“Canada is a country that will always stand up for the rule of law because if might starts to make right, if bigger countries can violate international law without consequences, then the whole world gets more dangerous for everyone,” he added.
Asked if Canadian MP Chandra Arya’s invitation to Indian envoy Sanjay Kumar Verma for an event was appropriate amid the diplomatic face-off, Trudeau said Canada wants to “work constructively” with India on this “very serious matter”. “We have reached out to the Indian government and to partners around the world to get to the bottom of this, to take it seriously. That’s why we were so disappointed when India violated the Vienna convention and arbitratrily revoked the diplomatic immunity of over 40 Canadian diplomats in India,” he said.
“We have serious reasons to believe that agents of the government of India could have been involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. And India’s response is to kick out a whole bunch of Canadian diplomats by violating their rights under the Vienna convention. That is of concern to countries around the world because if a given country,” the Canada Prime Minister added.
Trudeau said Canada has tried to “work constructively” with India and that it will continue to do so. “This is not a fight we want to be having right now but we will always unequivocally stand up for the rule of law,” he said.
The Ministry of External Affairs is yet to respond to Trudeau’s latest remarks.
In a firm response to Trudeau’s allegations, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has said that they have told Ottawa that “this is not the government of India’s policy”. “We told them that look, if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, let us know. We are open to looking at it,” he said.
“In the last few years, Canada actually has seen a lot of organised crime relating to the secessionist forces, organised crime, violence, extremism. They’re all very, very deeply mixed up,” he added.
Dr Jaishankar also raised concern over Indian diplomats and consulates facing threats in Canada.
“We have a situation where actually our diplomats are threatened, our consulates have been attacked and often comments are made about ‘there’s interference in our politics’. And, a lot of this is often justified as saying, well, that’s how democracies work,” he said.