New Delhi: Reaffirming his allegation of Indian involvement in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on his home soil, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday 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.
Issuing a warning, the Canadian PM said if bigger countries can “violate international law without consequences”, it will make the world “more dangerous”.
Speaking to the reporters in Ottawa on Saturday, Trudeau said, “From the very beginning when we learned of credible allegations that agents of the Indian government were involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil, we reached out to India to ask them to work with us in getting to the bottom of this matter. We also reached out to our friends and allies like the US and others to work on this really serious violation of international law and of the sovereignty of a democracy”.
“This is something that we are taking very seriously. We will continue to work with all partners as law enforcement and investigative agencies continue to do their work. Canada is a country that will always stand up for the rule of law because if might starts to make right again, if bigger countries can violate international law without consequences, then the whole world gets more dangerous for everyone,” he added.
The Canadian PM’s remarks came close on the heels of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s statement that Washington wants to see Canada “moving its investigation (into the killing of Hardeep Nijjar) forward” and India “needs to help make it happen”.
Trudeau, however, added that Canada wants to”work constructively” with India, adding that Ottawa “will always stand up to the rule of law”.
“We have been very very clear that we want to work constructively with India on this very serious matter. From the very beginning, we shared the real allegations that we are deeply deeply concerned about but we have reached out to the Indian government and to partners around the world to get to the bottom of this, to take it seriously,” Trudeau said.
The Canadian PM alleged that India willfully fell foul of the Vienna Convention by revoking the diplomatic immunity of the Canadian diplomats.
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.
This came after New Delhi conveyed its concerns to Ottawa over the disproportionate number of diplomats in India and sought a ‘parity’ in diplomatic strength.
Accusing India of violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Ottawa removed 41 diplomats and their 42 dependents from India amid the ongoing diplomatic sabre-rattling between the two countries.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responded by saying that no international norms were violated in India seeking parity in the mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa.
Tying the Nijjar killing to India’s decision to strip the Canadian diplomats of their immunity, the Canadian PM said on Sunday, “That’s why we were so disappointed when India violated the Vienna Convention and arbitrarily revoked the diplomatic immunity of over 40 Canadian diplomats in India…We have serious reasons to believe that agents of the government of India could have been involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil and India’s response is to kick out a whole bunch of Canadian diplomats by violating their rights under the Vienna Convention.”
“That is of concern to countries around the world because if a given country can just decide that their diplomats of another country are no longer protected, that makes international relations more dangerous and more serious. But every step of the way, we have tried to work constructively and positively with India, and we will continue to and that means continuing to work with Indian government diplomats. This is not a fight we want to be having right now but we will unequivocally always stand up for the rule of law,” he added.
Earlier, in September this year, Trudeau alleged the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing of the Khalistani terrorist.
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.
New Delhi also halted visa services to Canada but later decided to resume services for four categories after a “considered review of the security situation”.
Notably, Canada has not been able to present any evidence to back its claims over the killing, according to the MEA.