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Jaishankar breaks silence on why India had suspended visa services for Canada

The external affairs minister said India had to suspend the issuance of visas in Canada as its diplomats were repeatedly "threatened and intimidated in many ways" and we "got very little comfort from the Canadian system that time".

Ajeet Kumar Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Published on: February 27, 2024 8:59 IST
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar
Image Source : PTI External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar

New Delhi:  India expects action against the culprits involved in last year's attacks on its high commission in London and consulate in San Francisco as well as those involved in threatening the Indian diplomats in Canada, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said. The external affairs minister said India had to suspend the issuance of visas in Canada as its diplomats were repeatedly "threatened and intimidated in many ways" and we "got very little comfort from the Canadian system that time".

In September last year, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens, a move that came days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The visa services were resumed several weeks later.

India strongly rejected Trudeau's allegations.

India has been asserting its "core issue" with Canada remained that of the space given to the separatists, terrorists and anti-India elements in that country. "We expect the culprits in the attack in our consulate in San Francisco to be brought to book, we expect action against people who stormed into our high commission in London and we expect action against people who threatened our diplomats (in Canada)," Jaishankar said at a summit organised by TV9 Network.

Attacks on Indian diplomats in Canada

The Indian high commission in London was attacked by certain pro-Khalistani elements on March 19 last year while there was an attempted arson at the Indian Consulate in San Francisco in July. The Indian diplomats faced threats in Canada in September.

"We had to suspend the issuance of visas in Canada because our diplomats were not safe going to work. Our diplomats were repeatedly threatened. They were intimidated in many ways and we got very little comfort from the Canadian system at that time," Jaishankar said.

"We reached a stage when as a minister, I could not risk exposing the diplomats to the kind of violence which was very clearly prevalent in Canada at that time. That part of it has been rectified. Today, our visa operations are pretty much normal," he added.

Jaishankar said the situation has improved since then. To a question on the space given to the Khalistani elements in Canada, he cited instances of throwing smoke bombs into the Indian missions in that country. "They (Canada) keep telling us that we are a democracy. There is freedom of speech and, therefore, people say these things," Jaishankar said.

Advocating violence and separatism against a friendly state is not freedom of speech

"Freedom of speech cannot extend to intimidating diplomats who are doing their duty. Throwing smoke bombs to embassies and consulates, advocating violence and separatism against a friendly state is not freedom of speech, this is a misuse of freedom of speech," he added. Jaishankar said the culprits involved in these attacks must be brought to book.

"In the UK, we actually saw our high commission being attacked by mobs and honestly we did not get the kind of protection which we expected to get," Jaishankar said.

"Things have improved in the UK. We find today a much firmer response in Australia and in the US," he added.

"If a receiving state does not investigate and take action against someone who attacks our embassy and consulates, there is a message in it. I do not think it is good for any of these countries to send that kind of message for their own reputation," Jaishankar said. 

(PTI inputs)

Also Read: 'They're interfering in our internal affairs': India rejects Canada's accusations of election interference

 

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