December 22, 2023
NEW DELHI – The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday reacted sharply to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “tonal shift” dig, saying that India’s position has been consistent and that the core issue between New Delhi and Ottawa remains the space given by the latter to terrorists and anti-India elements under the guise of freedom of speech.
Addressing the press in Delhi, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “Our position has been consistent. We have highlighted how we see the problem and frankly, the core issue remains the space that is given to extremists, terrorists and anti-India elements in that country.”
Bagchi said that although he would not like to say whether they have noted any shift or not, but New Delhi is hoping Ottawa will take action against such extremist elements.
“I would not like to say whether they have noted a shift or not. Certainly, our positions have remained consistent and we would hope that they would take action on such extremist elements that are misusing freedom of speech and expression from their country,” Bagchi added.
Trudeau had Wednesday said that he felt a tonal shift in Canada’s relations with India after the US indictment of an Indian citizen for allegedly plotting to kill Khalistani extremist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, an American-Canadian citizen.
“I think there is a beginning of an understanding that they cannot bluster their way through this and there is an openness to collaborating in a way that perhaps they were less open before,” Trudeau said.
“There is an understanding that maybe, maybe just churning out attacks against Canada is not going to make this problem go away. We do not want to be in a situation of having a fight with India right now over this,” he added.
The relations between India and Canada deteriorated after Trudeau accused Indian government agents of carrying out extra judicial killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
India vehemently rejected Trudeau’s allegations, terming them “absurd and politically motivated” and demanded evidence to prove his claims.
Canada, however, failed to provide any specific evidence backing Trudeau’s claims.