India declared on Thursday (21 December) that its primary concern with Canada lies in the freedom granted to extremists and anti-India factions functioning from within its boundaries, maintaining that New Delhi's stance has always been consistent on this matter.
During a press conference, Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry, expressed India's hope that Canada would take measures against separatists and elements opposing India, Indian Express reported.
“Our position has been quite consistent. And whenever this has been raised, we have highlighted, how we see the problem. The core issue remains the space that is given to extremists and terrorists and, anti-India elements in that country. I think you would heard also from the External Affairs Minister recently as well as others, about the developments of that case… and we would hope that they would take action on such extremist, elements that are misusing the freedom of speech and expression in their country,” he explained.
The relationship between India and Canada has been significantly strained due to allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in September. He accused Indian agents of being involved in the June assassination of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
India has vehemently denied the accusations, asserting that Ottawa has only presented "allegations" associated with the separatist.
The comments from the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs arrive just one day following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Wednesday statement. Trudeau suggested that the dynamics between India and Canada might have experienced a "tonal shift" following the unveiling of a US indictment that accuses of a plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist in the United States.
Trudeau, in a year-end interview with CBC News, indicated a budding realisation that they cannot simply bluff their way out of this situation. He also noted an increased willingness to cooperate that may not have been as prevalent before.
He added that there's a realisation that perhaps, just continually launching attacks against Canada might not resolve the issue.
In a previous conversation with The Canadian Press news agency, Trudeau explained that his public announcement of allegations was made with the intention to discourage New Delhi from repeating similar actions. He stated that this public declaration followed weeks of discreet diplomacy, which involved bringing up the allegations with India at the most senior levels.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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