Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday stuck to his support of the ongoing farmers’ agitation in India despite official summons being issued to the country’s High Commissioner over the PM’s earlier statement on the agitation.
India told Canadian envoy Nadir Patel on Friday that the comments made by Trudeau and others in his cabinet on the farmers' protest constituted an "unacceptable interference" in the country's internal affairs and these actions, if continued, will have a "seriously damaging" impact on the bilateral ties.
Trudeau, backing the agitating farmers in India, had said that Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protests, and had expressed concern over the situation.
He stuck to his position when asked about India’s warning of its impact on ties on Friday, saying Canada will continue to “stand up for peaceful protests and human rights”. He, however, welcomed the ongoing talks between farmers and the Narendra Modi government, and apparent efforts at “de-escalation”.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the Canadian High Commissioner was summoned and informed that comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some cabinet ministers and members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers constitute “an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs”.
The MEA said these comments by the Canadian leaders have encouraged "gatherings of extremist activities" in front of the Indian High Commission and Consulates in Canada, raising issues of safety and security.
"We expect the Canadian government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimize extremist activism," the MEA said. On Tuesday, the ministry had reacted very strongly to the comments made by Trudeau and some other Canadian leaders, terming them as "unwarranted".
"We have seen some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country. It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes," the MEA had said.
Canada has a significant number of Indians and most of them are from Punjab. Canada's Indian-origin Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan too had expressed concerns over reports of the "peaceful protesters being brutalised in India".
"The reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized in India are very troubling. Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right," he tweeted on Sunday.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting for the last nine days at the borders of Delhi against three farm laws. Dubbing these laws as "anti-farmer", these farmers claim that the newly enacted legislations would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.