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“My concern is national security, threats emanating from land of Canada”: Indian envoy to Canada Sanjay Verma

Indian envoy to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma (Photo: @itssamonline)

The High Commissioner of India to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma has described the relationship between the two countries as having “decade-old issues” that have resurfaced, with unfortunate crimes, and threats emanating from the land of Canada.

Speaking at an event in Montreal on Tuesday, the Indian envoy said that “Indians will decide what will happen to India” and not the foreigners.

“A lot of discussions at the government level, both sides, is happening and through the diplomatic channels. These channels are not open to the public and they are trying to find solutions and resolutions to the issues of concern on both sides. And the way in which it is moving, I think it will come to both sides to see the virtue of resolving the issues, satisfying the concerns of both sides. My concern is national security, and threats emanating from the land of Canada, these threats are largely emanating from the Canadian citizens…we are ready to sit down on the table any day, and we are doing that. And, we are trying to resolve this issue,” Verma told the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations.

Verma, as he further went on to speak on the current state of ties between Ottawa and New Delhi, asserted “If those people who are Indians living abroad want to decide the fate of India, better to go back and participate in the election process. Every five years, India goes through an election process at the national level, almost every five years. Similarly, states, which are provinces, as we call them here, in India also go through similar exercises.”

He said, “When we call two countries in bilateral relations as partners, strategic partners, friends, we expect both the countries to understand each other’s perspectives, each other’s concerns respect the cultural diversity of each other. Unfortunately, there have been issues, and this is nothing new, decades-old issues have resurfaced, re-emerged and there have been unfortunate crimes wherein those who are currently Canadian citizens, largely have their origin in India.”

The envoy noted that “India does not have dual nationality,” which is why someone is given Canadian citizenship, for India, the person is technically a foreigner.

“So therefore, if someone becomes a Canadian citizen or citizen of any other country, he or she is no longer an Indian citizen. So for us, technically the person is a foreigner. So the foreigners having, if I can call it, an evil eye on the territorial integrity of India, that is a big red line for us.”

These are Verma’s first remarks since the RCMP’s arrest of three Indian nationals in connection with Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing.

Amid escalating tensions between India and Canada, the Ministry of External Affairs, too expressed a strong condemnation regarding the float used in the Nagar Kirtan parade in Ontario and said the “celebration and glorification of violence” shouldn’t be accepted in a civilised society.

The MEA on Tuesday, also raised concerns about the security of India’s diplomatic representatives in Canada, further expecting the Justin Trudeau government to ensure “they carry out their responsibilities without fear.”

This comes after some Khalistani supporters chanted “anti-India slogans” during the Nagar Kirtan Parade organised by the Ontario Gurudwara Committee (OGC) in Canada.

The MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal, called upon the indiaiad to stop providing criminals a safe haven.

“We continue to remain concerned about the security of our diplomatic representatives in Canada and expect the Government of Canada to ensure that they are able to carry out their responsibilities without fear,” he said.

Notably, multiple incidents of Khalistan extremism have been reported in Canada over the past few years. Even when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in India for G20 Summit, a so-called Referendum was held by Khalistani secessionists in Surrey British Columbia.

In June last year, a tableau parade was organised in Canada celebrating the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi, which drew severe criticism from New Delhi. In March this year, Khalistan supporters held a protest outside the Indian Embassy in Canada.

They 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 graffiti.