New Delhi: Three days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed support for Indian farmers’ right to peaceful protests, India summoned Canadian high commissioner Nadir Patel on Friday to lodge a protest. India said that Trudeau’s comments would have a “seriously damaging impact” on bilateral ties.
India has clearly escalated its demonstration of grievance on Trudeau’s remarks, delivered during a Facebook live event to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on Monday.
India’s immediate response on Tuesday had been to say that it had noted “some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India”. It also termed them unwarranted, “especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country”.
Three days later, it has lodged an official protest, in which it has specifically identified the Canadian prime minister, rather than only generic “Canadian leaders”.
“The Canadian High Commissioner was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs today and informed that comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs,” said the MEA communique.
Along with describing the statements as an “unacceptable interference”, India warned that they will be harmful to bilateral ties. “Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada.”
The MEA claimed that comments by Trudeau and other Canadian politicians “have encouraged gatherings of extremist activities in front of our High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security”.
“We expect the Canadian Government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimise extremist activism,” it said.
In the Facebook live event, Trudeau had brought up the farmers’ protests against the Central farm laws at the start of the interaction.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning, and we are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s the reality for many of you,” said the Canadian prime minister.
He then added that Canada stood for peaceful protests and had conveyed to the Indian government the need for engaging in a dialogue. “Let me remind you that Canada will always be there to defend the right to peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we have reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns,” he said.