New Delhi, September 30
Highlighting the incidents of threats, violence and intimidation against Indian diplomats and missions in Canada, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar wondered if any other country would have acquiesced to this state of affairs.
“Let’s not normalise what is happening in Canada,” he said while interacting with the media in Washington prior to his departure for India.
“We have had smoke bombs thrown at the mission, we have had violence in front of consulates, there are posters put up. 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. It is important to call out what is happening there,” he said in this respect.
Must call out violence
We have had smoke bombs thrown at mission, violence in front of consulates, posters put up. Do you consider this normal?... It is important to call out what is happening there. —S Jaishankar, External affairs minister
“What is happening in Canada, had it happened anywhere else, do you think the world would’ve taken it with equanimity?” he said.
The minister said the problem did not explode with Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder in Canada. “We have had an ongoing problem with Canada and the Canadian government for some years now. It really revolves around the permissiveness to terrorism, extremism and violence. This permissiveness is also reflected in the fact that some important extradition requests have not been responded to from their side,” he said.
Jaishankar advocated contacts between the two governments to resolve the issue. “If they are prepared to share with us specifics and anything relevant, we are also open to looking at it. So in that sense, that’s where the matter stands. There are multiple problems out there. So, I guess in the case of individual incidents, the governments concerned will have to talk to each other and see how they sort of take it forward,” he said. However, the minister did not want the dialogue to remain limited to the Nijjar murder. “But there is a larger issue. And I think it’s important that the larger issue should be flagged. The larger issue is this permissiveness that I have spoken about….We don’t need to learn from other people what freedom of speech is about. But we can tell people this. We don’t think freedom of speech extends to incitement, to violence. That to us is a misuse of freedom,” he observed.
‘Small minority’ raising Khalistan issue
S Jaishankar said those talking of Khalistan abroad are a small minority and most of their co-religionists believe it is not the main issue of the entire Sikh community. “Those who talk of terrorism, whose arguments include violence... this is a small minority, and respective govts should take unbiased actions,” he said.
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