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'Canada has consistently given space to...': India calls on Ottawa to respect Vienna Convention

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi highlighted that India has seen interference from Canadian diplomats in India's internal affairs and called it "obviously unacceptable." Canadian PM Trudeau had called on India to cooperate after the US indictment of an Indian national in a failed assassination plot.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Published on: November 30, 2023 17:24 IST
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
Image Source : MEA/YOUTUBE Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday reiterated that Canada had consistently "given space to anti-India extremists and violence" and called on the Trudeau government to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention. This came a day after the US indicted an Indian national for a failed assassination plot on Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

During a special briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE for UN climate talks, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi highlighted that India has seen interference from Canadian diplomats in India's internal affairs and called it "obviously unacceptable."

"So far as Canada is concerned, we have said that they have consistently given space to anti-India extremists and violence, and that is actually the heart of the issue. Our diplomatic representatives in Canada have borne the brunt of this. So, we expect the Government of Canada to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. We have also seen interference by Canadian diplomats in our internal affairs and that is unacceptable" Bagchi told media-persons.

Bagchi further said that the linking of the accused with an Indian official was a "matter of concern" and contrary to the Indian government's policy.

Trudeau's reaction to US indictment

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on India to cooperate with India more seriously in the ongoing investigation into the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, after the United States charged an Indian national for his alleged involvement in the failed assassination plot of Pannun in New York.

Federal prosecutors in the US charged the 52-year-old Nikhil Gupta with murder-for-hire which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, said US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Matthew G Olsen. Authorities say that Gupta agreed to pay $100,000 to an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a hitman to kill the 'victim', who is speculated to be Pannun.

"The news coming out of the United States further underscores what we've been talking about from the very beginning: which is India needs to take this seriously," CBC News quoted Trudeau as saying to reporters. "The Indian government needs to work with us to ensure that we're getting to the bottom of this. This is not something that anyone can take lightly."

Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said that she would not make remarks on the US criminal case but added she expected more from India. "Clearly, we expect more cooperation on their part. And more engagement on their part," she added.

The US Justice Department unveiled the indictment against the Indian national about two months after Trudeau made allegations about India's involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Colombia's Surrey in June, starting a major diplomatic spat between New Delhi and Ottawa. India had outrightly rejected the allegation, terming it "absurd and politically motivated."

The killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar

"On or about June 18, masked gunmen murdered Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia, Canada. Nijjar was an associate of the Victim, and like the Victim, was a leader of the Sikh separatist movement and an outspoken critic of the Indian government. On or about June 19, the day after the Nijjar murder, Gupta told the UC that Nijjar “was also the target” and “we have so many targets"," said the DoJ release.

The indictment against Gupta reportedly mentioned a "big target" in Canada during one phone call days before unidentified gunmen shot and killed Nijjar. Gupta also told the police informant that they had "four jobs" to finish before June 29 — one in New York and "three in Canada".

(with PTI inputs)

ALSO READ | US charges Indian national for foiled plan to kill Khalistani terrorist | What we know about Nikhil Gupta?

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