Space To Anti-India Groups In Canada Promoting Violence Is Main Issue: Centre

New Delhi, 12 Jun (PTI): India on Wednesday said its main issue with Canada continues to be the political space that Ottawa provides to anti-India elements which advocate extremism and violence.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said India has repeatedly conveyed its “deep concerns” to Canada and New Delhi expects Ottawa to take strong action against those elements.

His comments came a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for Italy to attend the G7 summit.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among the leaders of the G7 advanced economies attending the annual summit.

“I think the main issue concerning Canada continues to be the political space that Canada provides to anti-India elements which advocate extremism and violence and we have repeatedly conveyed our deep concerns to them and we expect them to take strong action,” Mr Kwatra said.

His response came at a media briefing when asked about frosty India-Canada ties and Trudeau’s recent remarks about the rise of right-wing forces across the globe.

“We have just concluded our general elections. I am sure everybody would agree that this was the largest democratic exercise in the history of humankind,” Mr Kwatra said.

The foreign secretary said around 640 million people voted in the polls and that the vibrancy of India’s democracy was “truly” recognised and appreciated across the world.

“I don’t want to say anything on what somebody else thinks about how democracy should function but our democracy was in full display with enormous evidence to be seen,” he said.

Trudeau’s remarks came against the backdrop of elections in the European Union and in India.

The comments were seen by many as an indirect reference to India as well.

“We have seen around the world a rise of populist right-wing forces in just about every democracy we have seen and it is of concern to see political parties choosing to instrumentalise anger, fear, division, anxiety,” Mr Trudeau said.

“My approach has always been to respond to it, to understand it and look to solve it,” he said.

The ties between the two countries came under severe strain following Mr Trudeau’s allegations in September last year of a “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia.

New Delhi rejected Mr Trudeau’s charges as “absurd”.

India has been maintaining that the main issue between the two countries is that of Canada giving space to pro-Khalistani elements operating from Canadian soil with impunity.

There have been instances of pro-Khalistani elements threatening to harm Indian diplomats.

Asked about the vandalisation of a Gandhi statue in Italy, Mr Kwatra called it deplorable and said the matter has been taken up with Italian authorities and suitable rectification has already taken place.