Indian Minister Accuses Canada of Prioritizing Vote Bank Over Rule of Law

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar accuses Canada of allowing Khalistani separatist elements, prioritizing vote banks over the rule of law. Tensions escalate between India and Canada, with implications for global diplomacy and national security.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Indian Minister Accuses Canada of Prioritizing Vote Bank Over Rule of Law

Indian Minister Accuses Canada of Prioritizing Vote Bank Over Rule of Law

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has accused the Canadian government of allowing political space to Khalistani separatist elements, prioritizing their vote bank over the rule of law. In a recent interview, Jaishankar stated that India respects and practices freedom of speech, but does not encourage the freedom to support separatism and advocate violence.

Why this matters: The escalating tensions between India and Canada have significant implications for global diplomacy and national security, as it sets a precedent for how countries balance political interests with the rule of law. If left unchecked, the accommodation of separatist elements can lead to further destabilization and violence in the region.

Jaishankar criticized Canada's decision to issue visas to people with links to organized crime despite warnings from New Delhi. "If you have people whose presence there was itself on very dubious documents, what does it say about you? It actually says that your vote-bank actually is more powerful than your rule of law," he said.

The minister referred to Khalistani supporters among Sikh migrants from Punjab, including Karan Brar, a suspect in the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Brar had disclosed in a social media video that he entered Canada on a study permit obtained within days through EthicWorks Immigration Services in Bathinda, Punjab.

The revelation comes amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis between India and Canada, sparked by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's accusations in 2023 that Indian government agents were involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India has denied any involvement and has raised concerns over the growing presence of Khalistani factions in Canada.

India has urged Canada to stop sheltering criminal and secessionist elements and has voiced worries about the safety of its diplomatic representatives stationed in Canada. The Ministry of External Affairs has also expressed strong condemnation regarding the float used in the Nagar Kirtan parade in Ontario, saying that the celebration and glorification of violence should not be accepted in a civilized society.

Three Indian nationals, Karan Brar, 22, Kamalpreet Singh, 22, and Karanpreet Singh, 28, have been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Nijjar's killing. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed the arrests and emphasized ongoing investigations into potential ties to the Indian government.

The strained relations between India and Canada have led to a reduction in diplomatic staff, with Canada downsizing its Indian diplomatic staff due to decreased Canadian personnel affecting operations in Mumbai, Chandigarh, and Bengaluru. This action follows India's expulsion of Canadian diplomats last year. The Indian diaspora in Canada, approximately 1.8 million strong with another one million Non-Resident Indians, is considered an influential bloc in Canada's politics, mostly of Sikh ethnicity.

As tensions continue to escalate, India maintains its primary concern with Canada revolves around the accommodation of separatists, terrorists, and anti-India entities within its borders. The Indian government has emphasized its concern about the security of its diplomatic representatives in Canada and expects Ottawa to ensure that they are able to carry out their responsibilities without fear.