Wed, 29 Nov 2023

New Delhi [India], September 21 (ANI): Citing Canada's"diplomatic interference in internal matters", the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday and said there should be a parity in diplomatic staff strength.

"We have seen Canadian diplomatic interference in our internal affairs...," the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday amid the heightened diplomatic tension between India and Canada over the killing of a Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

"We have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in our mutual diplomatic presence. Their number here (in India) are very much higher than ours in Canada. The details of this are being worked out but I assume there will be a reduction from the Canadian side," he said while elaborating that the Indian government has asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic presence in India.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi reiterated that the allegations were made by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau about India's role behind the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected them.

"On September 19, in a press release, we said that yes, the allegations were raised by Prime Minister Trudeau with PM (Modi) and the Prime Minister rejected them," Bagchi said.

Arindam Bagchi said that Canada has not yet provided any evidence but on the contrary, India is asking Canada to take action against those facing charges related to terrorism.

"We are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us, but so far we have received no specific information from Canada," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday answering queries.

"From our side, specific evidence about criminal activities by individuals based on Canadian soil has been shared with Canada but not acted upon...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," Bagchi added.

India on Thursday said that Ottawa's response to its requests for extradition of anti-India elements has not been helpful.

In a stern message to Ottawa, India said that Canada should not become a safe haven for those involved in terror activities and terrorism as a larger issue that is something that should be looked at as it is funded and supported by Pakistan and terrorists are operating from abroad, including in Canada.

"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," Bagchi said.

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," he added.

Referring to terrorism, Bachi said it is funded and supported by Pakistan. He also spoke of the issue of safe havens."Not only terrorism but also the fact that it is funded and supported and we know this from sometime...from our western neighbours Pakistan...but the issue of safe havens, and places to operate have been provided abroad, including in Canada...and knowwe would expect that is the main focus. The question is: do we have the political will to address terrorism or do we want to justify it and condone it?" he asked.

India-Canada ties have hit a new low after Justin Trudeau's allegation that "Indian agents" were behind the shooting of Hardeep Nijjar.

Nijjar, chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and a"designated terrorist" was killed in a targeted shooting at British Columbia in Canada's Surrey in June 2018.

However, India rejected the allegations by the Trudeau administration, terming them "absurd" and "motivated".

"We have seen and rejected the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated," MEA had said in a statement."Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister and were completely rejected. We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to the rule of law," it added.

India on Tuesday expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move to Canada expelling a senior Indian diplomat in light of the claim of New Delhi's involvement in the killing of the wanted separatist leader.

Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in India to attend the G20 Summit. Trudeau at the conclusion of the two-day G20 Leaders' Summit emphasized that India is an important partner for Canada and we will continue to work towards it.

Trudeau highlighted the issue of the Khalistani protests and said that he had many conversations with PM Modi on the issue of Khalistan extremism and "foreign interference", and Ottawa will always defend freedom of expression, and at the same time will always be there to prevent violence. He further emphasized that the "actions of the few" do not represent the entire community or Canada.

Moreover, the Canadian PM was scheduled to depart from India on September 10, however, he had to extend his stay after a technical snag on his Airbus plane.

According to sources, the Indian side had offered services of the aircraft 'Air India One' to Canadian PM Trudeau and his delegation to fly back, after coming to know about the delay in his departure.

However, the Canadian side declined the offer and instead chose to wait for the backup aircraft, sources said. Finally, Trudeau was able to depart from India only on September 12. (ANI)

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