External affairs minister S Jaishankar will not be a part of the Canada-led meeting on Covid-19, scheduled to be held on December 7. The decision has come in the wake of Canada’s stand on the farmers’ issue.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had said that he supports the agitating farmers, following which a demarche was issued by India, asking Ottawa to not interfere in Delhi’s ‘internal matter’. Trudeau, however, said that Canada will stand up for peaceful protests and human rights. He also welcomed talks and efforts at de-escalation.
Demonstrations have picked pace on globally too. Protests to support the farmers are happening outside India’s high commission and consulates in Canada.
The Indian foreign ministry said in a statement that comments on “issues relating to Indian farmers constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs."
India and Canada have warm ties, but in recent years there has been concern in India that some Sikh leaders in Canada have ties to separatist groups hostile to India.
Canada is home to an influential Sikh community and Indian leaders say there are some fringe groups there that are still sympathetic to the cause of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan, carved out of India.
The Indian foreign ministry said comments made by Trudeau and other leaders had emboldened radical groups and they were a risk to its diplomatic staff based in Canada.
“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," it said.