NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau held bilateral talks in New Delhi on Sunday during the course of which India brought up the issue of rising Khalistan extremism in Canada.
Trudeau said Canada “will always defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of peaceful protest as it is extremely important to us” but added: “At the same time, we are always there to prevent violence and to push back against hatred”.
He further emphasised that the “actions of the few” do not represent the entire community or Canada.
“I think on the issue of the community, 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,” said Trudeau.
Multiple incidents of Khalistan extremism have been reported in Canada over the past few years.
In June this year, a tableau parade was organised in Canada celebrating the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi, which drew severe criticism from New Delhi.
Earlier in March, Khalistan supporters held a protest outside the Indian Embassy in Canada, raised pro-Khalistan slogans and allegedly assaulted Indian-origin journalists present on the spot.
Multiple temples have also been vandalised in Canada by pro-Khalistani protestors, with anti-India graffitis.
In July, India had raised concerns over threats to its diplomats in posters being circulated in Canada with information on a pro-Khalistan rally to be held on July 8. The posters contained threats to the Indian Ambassador to Canada and the consulate general in Toronto.
The posters purportedly circulated by Sikh extremists named Indian High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma and the Consulate General of India, Toronto, Apoorva Srivastava accusing them of playing a role in the June killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief and designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.
Important economic partner: Trudeau
Trudeau further said India is an “extraordinarily important” economy and an “important partner” of Canada in a range of sectors including fighting climate change and creating economic growth.
“India is an extraordinarily important economy in the world and an important partner to Canada on everything from fighting climate change to creating growth and prosperity for the citizens,” he said.
The Canadian prime minister said both sides will continue to look at expansion of existing cooperation.
(With inputs from agencies)