New Delhi: Accusing the Canadian government of being lax towards Khalistan supporters on its shores, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar claimed that its response was driven by “vote-bank compulsions”.
Jaishankar was speaking at an event in New Delhi’s India International Centre on Wednesday, June 28 commemorating the Union government’s ninth year in power.
“For us, how Canada has dealt with the Khalistani issue has been a long-standing concern … Their responses have all been, to the best of my understanding, actually constrained by what they regard as vote-bank compulsions,” Jaishankar said according to the Indian Express.
He added that “if there are activities that are permitted from Canada that impinge on our sovereignty, territorial integrity and security, then we will have to respond.”
Khalistan is the name of a proposed country in the Punjab that is meant to serve as a homeland for Sikhs.
Parts of the Sikh diaspora in Canada are a significant source of support for Khalistan. Vina Nadjibulla, an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, told the Toronto Star that the diaspora’s politics was a source of strain for Canada-India relations.
“The relationship we have diplomatically with India is improving rapidly, but I think we would be kidding ourselves if we were not to acknowledge some of the diaspora politics and local issues here in Canada, which will have a significant impact,” she said.
Earlier this month too, Jaishankar accused Canada of allowing the activities of Khalistani groups for “vote bank politics”. On June 4, a tableau was displayed in in Brampton, Ontario – a majority South Asian-city near Toronto – that celebrated the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
Jaishankar took issue to this and also blamed it on “vote-bank” tactics by Canadian politicians.
The external affairs minister also expressed bewilderment at the Canadian national security adviser Jody Thomas’ claims that India was “among the top sources of foreign interference in Canada”. “If anybody has a complaint, we have a complaint about Canada. What I said earlier, the space they are giving to Khalistanis and violent extremists,” Jaishankar said.
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