New Delhi: After the United Kingdom and the United States, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday summoned the high commissioner of Canada to ask for an “explanation’ for the breaching of security at India’s diplomatic mission and consulates.
The MEA announced on Sunday morning that the Canadian envoy, Cameron Mackay was summoned “to convey our strong concern about the actions of separatist and extremist elements against our diplomatic Mission and Consulates in Canada this week”.
Last Sunday, the UK deputy high commissioner was summoned after pro-Khalistan protestors took down the Indian flag at the high commission in London. A few days later, the US embassy’s Charge d’Affaires was summoned by the MEA over the damage to the Indian consulate in San Francisco, also by pro-Khalistan groups which were protesting against the Punjab police’s crackdown on Sikh hardliner Amritpal Singh.
The MEA statement said that the Canadian high commissioner was summoned over the series of protests being held at various Indian missions across Canada. “The High Commissioner of Canada was summoned yesterday to convey our strong concern about the actions of separatist and extremist elements against our diplomatic Mission and Consulates in Canada this week”.
The envoy was reminded about Ottawa’s obligations under the Vienna Convention, asking Canada to arrest and prosecute individuals identified to have been involved in such acts,
“It is expected that the Canadian Government will take all steps which are required to ensure the safety of our diplomats and security of our diplomatic premises so that they are able to fulfil their normal diplomatic functions,” said the MEA press note.
Regular protests have been held outside diplomatic missions in Canada.
Canadian media reported that hundreds had gathered outside the Indian consulate in Vancouver on Saturday to protest against the “crackdown” in Punjab.
Earlier on March 20, a journalist was reported to have been assaulted by pro-Khalistan protestors at an event to welcome the new Indian high commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma. The event was later cancelled.
The tensions in Punjab spilled over into Canada’s domestic politics, with questions raised in parliament.
At the House of Commons on Wednesday, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau had said that Ottawa was “monitoring” the situation in Punjab and was “looking forward” to a swift return to a more stable situation”, Hindustan Times reported.
He was answering a question from New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, with the latter being critical of Indian security efforts to arrest Amritpal Singh, the leader of Waris Punjab De.
The Canadian foreign minister Mélanie Joly told lawmakers on Thursday that Canada was “aware of the evolving situation in Punjab, and we are following it very closely”.
“We look forward to a return to a more stable situation. Canadians can always count on the Government of Canada to make sure that we will continue to address the concerns of many members of the community,” she said.