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India-Canadian member says Canada's 'ecosystem' helped 'nefarious agendas' of Khalistani extremists

Ritesh Malik, the National Convenor of the Canada India Foundation, said that Trudeau's allegations towards India were "political appeasement". He said that such remarks for short-term gains are not in Canada's interests and that Ottawa needs India's support.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Ottawa (Canada) Published on: October 10, 2023 16:48 IST
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Image Source : PTI Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

A prominent member of the India-Canadian community voiced concern over Canada's "ecosystem" that enabled Khalistani terrorists to use violence, threatening and bullying those who have raised their voices against their "nefarious agendas".

In an exclusive interview with news agency PTI, Ritesh Malik, National Convener of Canada India Foundation, said,"It is very concerning for us as a country, as Canadians… the direction which we as a country are taking in the sense of giving freedom of expression, which is our charter right, to people who don't believe in that same."

He also said that comments made with the aim of political appeasement for short-term gain do not lie in the interests of Canada's future, further saying that peace-loving Canadians don't believe in the "extreme" ideology that does not belong to the country. His remarks come amid a diplomatic standoff between India and Canada over the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

"Freedom of expression should be for everyone. We have unfortunately created that kind of ecosystem in Canada where these people are very vocal, very violent, very aggressive, and they don't let anybody...come out against them. They will bully, they will threaten, they will use every possible illegal means... to counter any sanity," said Malik.

He also accused Khalistani extremists of "creating differences" in the society and disturbing communal harmony, whose "nefarious agendas" are damaging the relations between the two countries. He also noted that Sikhs across the United States and Britain have opposed Khalistani ideology.

He also mentioned the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985 that killed over 300 people, saying that families of victims have not received justice till date. He also questioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's explosive allegations and said there were diplomatic ways to deal with Nijjar's killing.

Canada needs India's support: Malik

Referring to Trudeau's remarks, Malik said, "It looks to us, as Canadians, it's more like appeasement politics or a political move than anything else," he said, adding that the issue should have been dealt with in a different way to ensure the already strained relationship between the two countries due to the matters left unresolved for decades now, is not further spoilt."

The Indian-Canadian member also said that Canada needs India's support in the wake of several challenges, including the cost of living and economic recovery in the post-COVID world. "It is in our interest as Canada, and as Canadians, to work closely with countries like India, and if there are issues, they need to be resolved in a way that it does not hamper Canadians' chances to get economic benefit from opportunities which India presents today," he said.

"Both these countries have a great future. People on both sides are very progressive. They want the relationship to flourish, they want exchanges to take place, students to come here, people come here to set up businesses, people to go (to India) to explore opportunities," Malik added.

Notably, the tension between the two nations soared tremendously following Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's allegations against New Delhi where in he claimed Ottawa has "credible information" that Indian agents were involved in the killing of Khalistani terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, on July 19. However, the claims were outrightly rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs, where spokesperson Bagchi, dubbed the allegations "baseless" and "politically motivated".

Trudeau's recent remarks

A day after Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau spoke to UAE President and raised concerns over upholding laws-- in a reference to the recent killing of the Khalistani terrorist-- he discussed the same regarding India with King of Jordan Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein. 

As per the Canadian government, Trudeau briefed the situation between Canada and India to the Jordan King and said all should "respect the rule of law and the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations". Earlier last week, multiple media reports claimed India would expel at least 41 Canadian diplomats in order to maintain "balance" in the New Delhi-based embassy.

Trudeau, in a similar conversation with his UK counterpart Rishi Sunak, underscored the importance of a de-escalation in the diplomatic row between India and Canada.

This comes a week after Trudeau said that he is "not looking to escalate" the tensions with New Delhi and wants to have constructive relations. "We're not looking to escalate, as I've said, we're going to be doing the work that matters in continuing to have constructive relations with India through this extremely difficult time," CBC News quoted Trudeau as saying. The Canadian PM also acknowledged that Ottawa was going through an "extremely challenging time" with New Delhi.

(with PTI inputs)

ALSO READ | 'Respect international laws of diplomatic ties': Trudeau rakes up India-Canada row with Jordan King

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