During a meeting at the G20 summit held in New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed strong concern to his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau over anti-India protests occurring in Canada. New Delhi has had recurring sensitivities towards Sikh protesters in the country, especially after an incident earlier this June when Canada gave permission for a float in a parade, which depicted the 1984 assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. This display was interpreted as a glorification of the violent actions by Sikh separatists.
According to an official Indian statement, it was alleged that these forms of protests were promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats. The statement also claimed these actions were causing harm to diplomatic premises and were perceived as threats to the Indian community residing in Canada, along with their places of worship.
The bilateral relationships between India and Canada have been strained, with Canada recently halting talks on a prospective trade treaty with India, only three months after discussions about the draft of the agreement this year. Notably, Prime Minister Modi held bilateral meetings with several global leaders at the G20 Summit, however, a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau did not occur.
The Sikh community that resides in Canada, which also happens to be the largest outside the home state of Punjab in India, has arranged numerous protests that have increasingly aggravated Indian sentiments.
Responding to the concerns raised at the press conference, Prime Minister Trudeau asserted Canada’s steadfast commitment to “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and peaceful protest.” He emphasized that while the country stands firmly against any form of violence or hatred, the actions of a small group do not mirror the entire community residing in Canada or the nation’s ethos as a whole.
Despite a minor technical glitch with the Canadian delegation’s aircraft, which delayed Prime Minister Trudeau’s departure from the G20 summit, the delegation is set to remain in India until alternative travel arrangements are in place.