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‘Let’s not normalise what is happening in Canada’: Jaishankar

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Washington: Hitting out at Canada, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said it is necessary to call out things like violence, threats and intimidation against Indian diplomats and missions and wondered if this had happened to any other country would the world have taken it with equanimity.
“Let’s not normalise what is happening in Canada,” Jaishankar said during an interaction with Indian journalists here on Friday.
His remarks came amidst simmering tensions with Ottawa following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s explosive allegations of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia.
India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
India has angrily rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated” and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
“We have had an ongoing problem with Canada and the Canadian government for some years now. The ongoing problem really revolves around the permissiveness to terrorism, extremism and violence. This permissiveness is also reflected in the fact that some important extradition requests have not been responded to from their side,” he said.
“We have had smoke bombs thrown at the mission, we have had violence in front of consulates, there are posters put up. Do you consider this normal? If this had happened to any other country, how would they react? Let’s not normalise what is happening in Canada. It is important to call out what is happening there,” Jaishankar said.
“What is happening in Canada, had it happened anywhere else, do you think the world would’ve taken it with equanimity?” he asked.
When asked about Trudeau’s allegations, he said India has already pointed out to Canada that this is not the government of India’s policy.
“But if they are prepared to share with us specifics and anything relevant, we are also open to looking at it. So in that sense, that’s where the matter stands,” Jaishankar said.
Jaishankar said one of the problems is that no incident is isolated and the totality as there is a context for everything.
“There are multiple problems out there. So, I guess in the case of individual incidents, the concerned governments will have to talk to each other and see how they sort of take it forward,” he said.
“But there is a larger issue. And I think it’s important that the larger issue should be flagged. The larger issue is this permissiveness that I have spoken about,” he said.
He also asserted that it was not acceptable to make threats and intimidate diplomats in the name of freedom of speech.
“We don’t need to learn from other people what freedom of speech is about. But we can tell people this. We don’t think freedom of speech extends to incitement, to violence. That to us is a misuse of freedom,” he emphasised.
Jaishankar said he always asks people one question, how would they react if they were in his place?
“If it was your diplomats, your embassies, your people, what would be your reaction?” he asked.
Jaishankar said the entire debate should not focus only on issue one and not on issue two and the bigger picture, which has been going on for some time and which is a very serious picture.
“After all, I was thinking back, when was the last time that any of our missions was intimidated to a point where it could not continue with its normal function? I will have to think back. And if someone says this could happen in a G-7 country, in a commonwealth country, it gives you a lot to think about,” Jaishankar said.

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