Safe haven is being provided in Canada to those facing terrorism charges, India says
Describing Canada’s allegations against Indian officials as politically driven, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday (September 21, 2023) said there was a “degree of prejudice” in their actions.
"Yes, I do think there is a degree of prejudice here. They have made allegations and taken action on them. To us, it seems that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven," MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in response to a question on the India-Canada row at the weekly media briefing in New Delhi.
Rejecting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations about involvement in the death of a pro-Khalistan Sikh leader in the country earlier this year, India had on Tuesday expelled a senior Canadian diplomat citing “anti-India activities”. India’s action came a day after Canada's expulsion of an Indian diplomat amid a probe into what it alleged was India’s possible link in the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been designated a terrorist by India.
Referring to these allegations at the weekly media briefing, MEA Spokesperson Bagchi said, "Yes, these allegations were raised by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau with PM (Modi) and PM rejected them."
“Safe haven is being provided in Canada, we want the Canadian government to not do so and take action against those who have terrorism charges or send them here to face justice...We've sought either extradition request or assistance related to that, at least more than 20-25 individuals we've requested over the years but the response has not been helpful at all,” Bagchi stated.
According to Bagchi, India had informed the Government of Canada that there should be parity in strength in their mutual diplomatic presence. "Their number is much higher than ours in Canada... I assume there will be a reduction from the Canadian side," he remarked.
"If you're talking about reputational issues and reputational damage, if there's any country that needs to look at this, I think it is Canada and its growing reputation as a place, as a safe haven for terrorists, for extremists, and for organized crime. And I think that's a country that needs to worry about its international reputation," the MEA Spokesperson said in response to another query.
On Visa services in Canada, the MEA Spokesperson said, "You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commission and Consulates in Canada. This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our High Commission and Consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications. We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis".
Asked about the Indian students in Canada, MEA Spokesperson Bagchi said, "We've issued an advisory to take precautions. Our Consulate is working there. We have said that if they face any problem, they can contact our Consulate."
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau had said that intelligence agencies have been looking into the allegations after Nijjar was gunned down in the parking lot of Surrey Gurdwara Sahib in Brampton in June this year. The allegation, and the subsequent expulsion of the diplomats by both sides, resulted in a sharp escalation in tensions between the two countries.
Following Canada's action, MEA had summoned Canadian High Commissioner Cameron MacKay on Tuesday and communicated the decision to expel a senior Canadian diplomat. "The decision reflects Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities," the MEA said in a statement. 
"The space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organised crime is not new. We reject any attempts to connect Government of India to such developments," the MEA emphasized in a separate statement issued on Tuesday. 
The MEA urged the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil.