Modi Expresses Concern Over Canadian Protests at G20 Summit

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At the recent G20 summit in New Delhi, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, expressed significant concern over protests taking place in Canada against his nation. The concerns were communicated directly to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This information comes directly from an official statement from India.

The sensitivities of New Delhi over Sikh protesters in Canada have been well-established for some time. Back in June, India publicly chastised Canada for its decision to permit a parade float that depicted the 1984 assassination of then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, an incident that many interpret as promotion of violence by Sikh separatists.

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In the Indian government’s view, these actions undoubtedly stoke the flames of secessionism and incite violence directed at Indian diplomats. These activities also trigger damaging consequences for diplomatic premises and incite threats against the Indian community residing in Canada, including their places of worship.

Given these complex circumstances, India’s relationship with Canada remains fraught. Early this month, Ottawa made the decision to delay discussions on a potential trade treaty with India. This happened mere months after both nations made public their ambitions to conclude a preliminary agreement within the year. It’s noteworthy that Modi, despite conducting bilateral meetings with multiple global leaders during the G20 summit, did not share any such meeting with Trudeau.

The turn of events in 1984 that led to Indira Gandhi’s demise began when she allowed for an operation to remove Sikh separatists from their holiest temple located in northern India. The separatists were demanding their independent homeland, Khalistan. The execution of Gandhi was carried out by two Sikh bodyguards.

Canada is notable as the country with the greatest Sikh population outside of their home state of Punjab, India. It has also been the host of various protests that have agitated India.

Despite these issues, Trudeau emphasized both press freedom and peaceful protests. Speaking at a press conference held in New Delhi, he stated, “Canada will always defend ‘freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and peaceful protest’.”

However, he also added that they remain resolute in their stand against violence and hatred, pointing out that the actions of a few don’t represent the entire community or Canada as a whole. Trudeau’s departure from India was delayed due to a technical issue with the Canadian delegation’s aircraft. As a result, the delegation had to remain in India until alternative travel arrangements could be put in place.