New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has affirmed that Canadian politics have given space to Khalistani forces and also allowed them to indulge in activities that adversely impact bilateral relations between India and Canada. He expressed concern that these actions are not in the interest of either country.
In an interview with ANI, EAM Jaishankar said, "The issue at heart is the fact that in Canadian politics, these Khalistani forces have been given a lot of space and have been allowed to indulge in activities which I think are damaging to the relationship, clearly not in India's interest, and not in Canada's interest either. But unfortunately, that is the state of their politics," EAM Jaishankar said.
'Khalistan issue is not new'
The External Affairs Minister also clarified that the G20 summit in New Delhi had no relation to the Khalistani issue in Canada.
He added, "Getting everybody around on a G20 has nothing to do with the Khalistan issue in Canada. The Khalistan issue is not new. The Khalistan issue has existed for years...I can explain my government, my prime minister, and my book. It's not for me to speculate on other Prime Ministers."
India-Canada Relations facing strain
Diplomatic relations between India and Canada are facing a significant strain due to a very vocal pro-Khalistan lobby in Canada threatening Indian diplomats posted in the country, raising concerns about the future of the bilateral partnership.
In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the stunning allegation in the House of Commons that there was "credible intelligence" linking India's government to the June 18 shooting death of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside his gurdwara in Surrey, B.C.
In the aftermath, India swiftly retaliated by issuing a statement that denied any involvement in the issue.
Interestingly, the Trudeau allegations followed Canada's decision to seek a "pause" in the negotiations for an Early Progress Trade Agreement, as confirmed by Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Verma. Canada did not give any reason for suspending the talks.
India vehemently denied the claims, calling them "absurd and motivated."
MEA stand on on Canadian vote-bank politics
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Canada has provided "no specific information" to support the allegations.
While India has in the past attributed Canada's inaction to vote-bank politics, Canada too has held for quite some time that India has been interfering in Sikh-related matters in the North American country.
The Khalistan movement is outlawed in India and considered a national security threat by the government; a number of groups associated with the movement are listed as "terrorist organisations" under India's Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).