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Need to fight separatism jointly, India tells Canada

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau during a meeting in New Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

India and Canada should jointly counter forces of terrorism and separatism, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday welcoming his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau. Mr Modi’s comments came hours before the Ministry of External Affairs announced an Indo-Canadian ‘framework agreement’ to counter Sikh separatist groups.

“You have witnessed the plurality and diversity of India during your visit. Terrorism and extremism are dangers for pluralist societies like India and  Canada. Those who try to use communal sentiments and want to build separatist divides should have no place among us. Those who want to challenge our country’s sovereignty, unity and integrity will also not be tolerated,” said Mr Modi in a press statement after both the leaders held official talks.

India, Canada NSAs meet

He said that the Indian and Canadian National Security Advisors have already met and have agreed to counter common security threats. The Ministry of External Affairs announced a ‘Framework for Cooperation for Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism’  showing an expanding understanding on fighting groups like ISIS, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation.

“The Framework consists of institutionalized cooperation between the National Security Council Secretariat of the Republic of India and the office of Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Advisor, and regular exchanges and coordination between India and Canada. It will be guided by the joint National Security Advisor’s Dialogue,” stated an official declaration.

Mr Modi’s statement against terrorism and separatism is being interpreted in the context of several controversies surrounding Prime Minister Trudeau’s weeklong visit to India during which he visited Amritsar, Gandhinagar and Mumbai. The visit received harsh criticism in India due to Mr Trudeau’s links with the fringe elements in Canada’s pro-Khalistan segments.

During the press conference, Mr Modi spoke in Hindi and the Canadian leader spoke in English and French showing his concern for inclusive politics for Canada which has battled French separatism in the province of Quebec in the past.

Trudeau quiet on separatists and extremists

In his speech, Prime Minister Trudeau reflected his Indian host’s comments on pluralism, but was quiet on separatists and extremists. The visiting dignitary’s comments were more focused on ensuring social and economic justice.

“Canada supports pluralism and diversity. We welcome agreements in automotive sector, smart cities, customs enforcement. Renewed economic partnership must create jobs and help families get ahead. As governments we have the responsibility to set the right economic parameters in such a way that helps everybody and not just the wealthiest few,” said Mr Trudeau.

The latest controversy on Thursday revolved around Jaspal Atwal, a separatist Sikh whose name is linked to the case of attempted murder of Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in 1986 during a trip to Vancouver. The minister had survived that attempt on his life but later was assassinated in Punjab in 1991.

Mr Atwal arrived in India to participate in the events around Mr Trudeau’s visit which indicated at a lapse at the official level. “It was an oversight at the Canadian side,” said Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, after Mr Atwal received an invitation to an official dinner hosted by the High Commissioner of Canada. Mr Trudeau subsequently distanced himself from Mr Atwal.

Several agreements signed

Both sides also showed areas of convergence and signed several agreements on higher education, science and IT, nuclear sector, intellectual property rights. Apart from bilateral trade, Indian and Canadian delegations discussed regional and international issues.

“We  have consensus on ensuring freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region, nuclear proliferation in North Korea and ensuring continuity of democracy in the Maldives,” said Mr Modi informing that both sides agreed on ensuring peace in  Afghanistan.

“We discussed the issue of Afghanistan in detail. There is a need to stop cross border terrorism for Afghanistan and to ensure a peaceful, democratic future for the country,” Mr Modi said in the press conference.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 7:56:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/prime-minister-narendra-modi-and-canadian-prime-minister-justin-trudeu-joint-statement/article22837074.ece

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