Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed concern about “continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada” in a bilateral with Canadian President Justin Trudeau held on the sidelines of G20. Canada has been one of the favoured hubs of expat Sikhs, where extremism has mushroomed along the margins and made headlines over the last few months.
PM Modi conveyed to Mr Trudeau that the extremist elements in Canada are “promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises and threatening the Indian community and their places of worship,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The nexus of such forces with organised crime, drug syndicates and human trafficking should be a concern for Canada as well. It is essential for the two countries to cooperate in dealing with such threats,” read the statement.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that a relationship based on mutual respect and trust is essential for the progress of India-Canada relationship, the ministry said.
Mr Trudeau today said he discussed Khalistan extremism and “foreign interference” with PM Modi multiple times “over the years”.
Canada will always “defend freedom of expression… conscience and peaceful protest,” Mr Trudeau said. But it will also prevent violence and push back against hatred, he told reporters.
“It is important to remember that the actions of the few do not represent the entire community or Canada. The flip side of it, we also highlighted the importance of respecting the rule of law and we did talk about foreign interference,” he added.
Over the last few years, there have been multiple instances of Khalistani activities in Canada — including protests outside Indian Embassy, assault on Indian-origin journalists, parade was organised to celebrate assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and threat posters for Indian diplomats.
India had consistently lodged protests over these instances.