Don’t Want To Be In A Situation: Justin Trudeau Speaks Out on India-Canada Row

'Don't Want To Be In A Situation...': Justin Trudeau On India-Canada Row

Days after Trudeau’s allegations, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas. (File)

Ottawa:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said India’s ties with Canada may have undergone “a tonal shift” following the indictment of an Indian national in the US for plotting an assassination attempt on a Khalistani terrorist on American soil.

“I think there is a beginning of an understanding that they can’t bluster their way through this and there is an openness to collaborating in a way that perhaps they were less open before,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

He said the US indictment appears to have convinced the Indian government to adopt a more sober tone. “There’s an understanding that maybe, maybe just churning out attacks against Canada isn’t going to make this problem go away.” “We don’t want to be in a situation of having a fight with India right now over this,” he said. “We want to be working on that trade deal. We want to be advancing the Indo-Pacific strategy.

But it is foundational for Canada to stand up for people’s rights, for people’s safety, and for the rule of law. And that’s what we’re going to do.” The ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Trudeau’s allegations on September 18 of a “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.

India rejected Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”.

In November, the US federal prosecutors charged that one Nikhil Gupta was working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill a Sikh separatist, who holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada. Though the separatist Sikh leader was not named, media reports identified him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the leader of the Sikhs for Justice, an organisation banned in India.

India has already constituted a probe committee to investigate allegations.

Last week, Trudeau said that his decision to make allegations in public was intended to “put a chill” on them from repeating a similar action.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha earlier this month that Canada has not shared any specific evidence or inputs with India.

Days after Trudeau’s allegations in September, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens and asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country to ensure parity.

India resumed some visa services in Canada last month, more than a month after they were suspended.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has acknowledged that the relationship between India and Canada has undergone a “tonal shift” following the indictment of an Indian national in the United States for plotting an assassination attempt on a Khalistani terrorist. Trudeau stated that there is an understanding in India that resorting to attacks against Canada will not resolve the issue. He expressed the desire to work on a trade deal and advance the Indo-Pacific strategy while also standing up for people’s rights, safety, and the rule of law.

The strained ties between India and Canada began when Trudeau made allegations on September 18 regarding the potential involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India rejected these allegations as baseless and motivated. In November, US federal prosecutors charged an individual named Nikhil Gupta for working with an Indian government employee in a foiled plot to kill a Sikh separatist. Although the name of the separatist leader was not disclosed, media reports identified him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the leader of the Sikhs for Justice organization.

India has formed a probe committee to investigate these allegations, and Canada has not shared any specific evidence or information with India. In response to Trudeau’s allegations, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens and requested a downsizing of Canada’s diplomatic presence in the country. Visa services were partially resumed last month after being suspended for over a month.

The current context revolves around Trudeau’s statement that Canada does not want to engage in a fight with India and wants to focus on trade and the Indo-Pacific strategy. He emphasized the importance of standing up for people’s rights, safety, and the rule of law. The US indictment against an Indian national appears to have influenced India’s approach, leading to a more sober tone in their dealings with Canada.

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