Stop attacks on places of worship, India tells Canada

| | New Delhi/Geneva
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Stop attacks on places of worship, India tells Canada

Wednesday, 15 November 2023 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi/Geneva

India has recommended Canada to strengthen its framework to prevent “misuse of freedom of expression” for triggering violence, attacks on places of worship and racial minorities, and address hate crimes and speeches. It came in the backdrop of strained diplomatic ties between the two countries since September.

These assertions were made by KS Mohammed Hussain, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India while addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) review meeting in Geneva last week.  These recommendations came in the backdrop of strained diplomatic ties between the two countries since September.

Hussain, leading the Indian delegation, noted in his address that India “welcomes and thanks the delegation of Canada for the presentation of their national report” to combat human trafficking. “We note the enactment of National Housing Strategy Act, 2019 ; Accessible Canada Act; and the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking 2019-2024,” he said

“In the spirit of constructive dialogue, India recommends the following to Canada - one, further strengthen the domestic framework to prevent misuse of freedom of expression for inciting violence and disallow activities of groups which are promoting extremism.

Two, effectively prevent attacks on places of worship of religious and racial minorities, strengthen legislative and other measures to address hate crimes and hate speech,” Mohammed Hussain said at the UNHRC meeting.

India also recommended Canada to eradicate the “structural discrimination against children belonging to indigenous groups” and “address disparities in access to services by all children”.  Diplomats from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also shared their insights and recommendations.

India’s recommendation came close on the heels of a UN report that criticised Canada for “modern slavery”. The report expressed concern over Canada’s foreign worker programmes, describing these as a”breeding ground for contemporary forms of slavery”.

The UN human rights body urged Canadian authorities to “do more” to protect workers, tackle discrimination that also enables exploitation, and “offer a clear pathway to permanent residency for all migrants”.

Incidentally, two days ago Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made fresh remarks on the diplomatic ties between the two countries over Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing.

Trudeau reiterated his allegation of India’s involvement in the murder of Nijjar in Canada, and said his country will “always stand up for the rule of law”.

He accused 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.

Calling Nijjar’s killing “very serious”, he said he reached out to India “to get into the bottom of this matter” and to allies the US to investigate Canada’s claims.

Diplomatic tension between India and Canada erupted in September when Trudeau alleged a “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the June killing of Nijjar in the Canadian province of British Colombia. Nijjar was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force, and was wanted in India.

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.

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.

It may be mentioned here that on November 10 India conveyed to the US its serious concerns over increasing activities of pro-Khalistani elements in Canada. India flagged its concerns at the ‘2+2’ foreign and defence ministerial meeting here.

“We have made our concerns very very clear,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra had said at a media briefing. “We have core security concerns and I am sure you are all aware of recent video that has surfaced from one such individual,” Kwatra said adding the US side understood New Delhi’s concerns.

The American delegation at the ‘2+2’ ministerial dialogue talks was led by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin while External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh headed the Indian side.

The ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations in September over the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June in the Canadian town of Surrey.

Days after Trudeau’s allegations, India temporarily suspended issuance of visas to Canadian citizens and asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country to ensure parity.

Canada has already withdrawn 41 diplomats and their family members from India. India has already resumed some of the visa services.

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