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G20: Modi blasts Trudeau over spike in pro-Khalistan protests by Canadian Sikhs

Canada will always protect “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and peaceful protest”, says Justin Trudeau

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grave concerns to Justin Trudeau regarding anti-India rallies in Canada, as per a statement from India, on the margins of the G20 conference in New Delhi.

Sikh demonstrators in Canada have long been a delicate subject in New Delhi. India criticised Canada in June for permitting a float in a parade commemorating the 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, which was seen as Sikh separatists glorifying violence.

“They are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship,” the Indian statement said.

Even though Ottawa halted negotiations on a planned trade deal with India this month, barely three months after the two countries stated they hoped to reach an initial agreement this year, relations between India and Canada are still sour. During the G20 conference, Modi met privately with a number of foreign leaders, but not Trudeau.

After allowing the storming of the holiest Sikh shrine in northern India to expel Sikh separatists who desired an independent nation to be known as Khalistan, Indira Gandhi was killed in 1984 by two Sikh bodyguards.

The country has been the scene of several rallies that have displeased India. Canada has the greatest number of Sikhs outside of their own state of Punjab in India.

At a news conference in New Delhi, Trudeau stated that Canada will always protect “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and peaceful protest.”

“At the same time as we are always there to prevent violence, to push back against hatred,” he said, adding that the actions of the few “do not represent the entire community or Canada.”

A technical issue with the Canadian delegation’s aircraft caused Trudeau’s departure from the G20 summit to be postponed on Sunday, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. It further said that the group will remain in India till other arrangements were established.

Atul Sangar

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