During a conversation with journalist Lionel Barber on Wednesday, Jaishankar emphasised the importance of credible evidence.
In response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of India’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar has requested evidence to support the claims.
During a conversation with journalist Lionel Barber on Wednesday, Jaishankar emphasised the importance of credible evidence. When asked if there was any evidence of the Indian government’s involvement in the killing, the EAM categorically stated, “None.”
Speaking about Trudeau’s allegations, Jaishankar revealed that he has discussed the matter with his Canadian counterpart, Melanie Joly, urging the Canadian government to share any evidence they may have. He highlighted India’s willingness to consider an investigation but emphasised that no evidence has been provided thus far.
“Now, in the case of Mr Trudeau, I have discussed it also with my own counterpart. And we have told them, look, if you have a reason to make such an allegation, please share the evidence with us. We are not ruling out an investigation and looking at anything which they may have to offer. They haven’t done so,” Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar addressed the broader issue of violent and extreme political opinions in Canadian politics advocating separatism from India, some through violent means. “In Canada, we feel that Canadian politics has given space to violent and extreme political opinions which advocate separatism from India, including through violent means. And these people have been accommodated in Canadian politics,” the EAM said.
He noted the accommodation of such views within Canadian politics, leading to attacks on Indian diplomats, including the High Commission, and intimidation of consul generals and other diplomats.
“We’ve had attacks on the High Commission, smoke bombs thrown at the High Commission. My Consul general and other diplomats were intimidated in public, on record, with no action taken by those who did know. This is a country where there is a previous history,” he added.
Amid a diplomatic row between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, was stopped by a few radicals from entering a gurdwara in Glasgow in October this year.
According to a purported video posted on the Instagram channel of ‘Sikh Youth UK’ a man, reportedly a pro-Khalistani activist, was seen blocking Doraiswami from entering the Glasgow Gurdwara.
Jaishankar also emphasised the need for responsibility in exercising freedom of speech and expression in Canada. He stated, “But freedom of speech and freedom of expression also comes with a certain responsibility. And the misuse of those freedoms and the toleration of that misuse for political purposes would be, to our mind, very wrong.”
Earlier this month, Trudeau reaffirmed his allegation of Indian involvement in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Nijjar on his home soil, accusing New Delhi of violating the Vienna Convention by “kicking out” 40 diplomats at a time when his country had reached out to the former and other global partners to get to the bottom of the murder.
Issuing a warning, the Canadian PM said if bigger countries can “violate international law without consequences”, it will make the world “more dangerous”.
Trudeau, however, added that Canada wants to “work constructively” with India, adding that Ottawa “will always stand up to the rule of law”.
Last month, Canada pulled out 41 diplomats from India and also halted its visa and consular services in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru consulates in the wake of the Union government’s decision to strip them of their immunity.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responded by saying that no international norms were violated in India, seeking parity in the mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa.
In September this year, Trudeau alleged the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing of the Khalistani terrorist.
India rejected the allegations as “absurd and motivated” and expelled a Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move after Ottawa asked a senior Indian diplomat to leave.
New Delhi also halted visa services to Canada but later decided to resume services for four categories after a “considered review of the security situation”.
Notably, Canada has not been able to present any evidence to back its claims over the killing, according to the MEA.
At the event in London, EAM Jaishankar also attended the repatriation ceremony of Yogini Chamunda and Yogini Gomukhi, the 8th-century stolen temple idols from Uttar Pradesh’s Lokhari.
Meanwhile, on India-China relations, Jaishankar said, “The rise of China is a reality but there is an equal reality that is the rise of India. The rise may be different, quantitatively or qualitatively; they may not be identical. The two (India and China) are among the oldest civilisations in the world. There are realities that need to be recognised. We are the fifth largest economy in the world and the largest in terms of population.”