Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Friday denounced the “climate of violence” and “atmosphere of intimidation” against Indian diplomats in Canada, which he said was created by Canada’s indulgence of Sikh separatists, such as Hardeep Singh Nijar, whom Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently accused the Indian government of murdering.
“Because there is freedom of speech, to make threats and intimidate diplomats, I don’t think that’s acceptable,” Jaishankar said.
“We have had an ongoing problem with Canada and the Canadian government for some years now,” he said. “The ongoing problem 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 added.
One of those requests was for Nijjar, whom Indian police attempted to extradite from Canada in 2022, according to the Hindustan Times. India filed similar requests against other members of the Sikh separatist movement, which is named after Khalistan, the prospective Sikh state they wish to carve out of India’s Punjab province.
A senior Indian police officer told the Hindustan Times in September that India had filed 21 “red notices” with Interpol for “gangsters” living in Canada, but the Canadian government ignored them all. A red notice is a request from one Interpol member to another to take an accused criminal into custody and begin extradition proceedings.
“We have had smoke bombs thrown at the mission, we have had violence in front of consulates, there are posters put up,” Jaishankar said on Friday. “Do you consider this normal? If this had happened to any other country, how would they react? It is important to call out what is happening there.”
Jaishankar rejected Trudeau’s argument that Sikhs living in Canada are free to speak on any subject they wish, including the Khalistani independence movement.
“We don’t need to learn from other people what freedom of speech is about,” Jaishankar said. “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 said on Friday:
We consider there’s a permissive Canadian attitude to terrorists and people who openly advocate violence. They have been given operating space in Canada because of Canadian politics. For us, it has certainly been a country where organized crime from India mixed with trafficking in people, secessionism and violence.
Jaishankar rejected Trudeau’s explosive public allegations that Indian government operatives were involved in slaying Nijjar, who was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia on June 18.
“The Canadian Prime Minister made some allegations, initially privately and then publicly, and our response to him, both in private and public, was that what he was alleging was not consistent with our policy,” said the Indian foreign minister. “And that if he or his government had anything relevant and specific that they would like us to look into, we were open to looking at it.”