Minister S Jaishankar On Space To Khalistani Elements Abroad

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'Not Freedom Of Speech': Minister On Space To Khalistani Elements Abroad

New Delhi:

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called out the space given to extremist Khalistani elements in foreign countries and said this is not freedom of speech, but a misuse of it.

He said it is not good for any country to send that kind of message for their own reputation and expressed hope that action will be taken against those who attacked Indian missions.

The Minister was speaking at the event ‘The Rise of the Global South’ at TV9 Bharatvarsh Conclave on Monday.

Speaking about the situation in Canada, Mr Jaishankar said, “We had to suspend the issue of visas in Canada because our diplomats were not safe going to work, they were repeatedly threatened, intimidated, and got very little comfort from the Canadian system at that time…which has improved since then.”

“We reached a stage, where, as a minister, I could not risk exposing my diplomats to the kind of violence prevalent there. That part of it has been rectified, so today our visa operations are pretty much normal,” he added.

The Minister further called out the argument of ‘freedom of expression’ stating that throwing smoke bombs at missions and advocating violence is a “misuse” of freedom of speech.

“Regarding the space that is being given to extremists, they keep telling us, ‘There is freedom of speech, democracy’. Freedom of speech can’t extend to intimidating diplomats, throwing smoke bombs in embassies and consulates, advocating violence and separatism against a friendly state. To me, this is not freedom of speech. This is a misuse of freedom of speech,” Mr Jaishankar said.

Recalling the vandalism incident on the Indian High Commission in the UK, he said that the mission didn’t get the protection New Delhi had expected.

“To the point of someone climbing on to our HC and bringing down our Indian flag. I asked my colleagues ‘Let’s put us in each other’s shoes’. How would you react if a mob attacked your premises anywhere in the world? You will not say freedom of speech and expression, you will be jumping up and down. But, things have improved in the UK,” the Minister said.

In a stern message, Mr Jaishankar said that if a country is not taking action against someone attacking foreign missions, “there is a message in it.”

“We have had a much firmer response in Australia and the US. We had an arson attack in the US, but that is under investigation. If the receiving state does not take action against someone who attacks an embassy or a consulate, there’s a message in it. Now, I don’t think it’s good for any country to send that kind of message for their own reputation. That’s why we want action to be taken against those who attacked our missions,” Mr Jaishankar added.

Notably, there has been a rise in Khalistani extremism in several countries like Canada, Australia, the US and the UK.

After the killing of the designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar last June, the Khalistani extremists targeted Indian diplomats in several countries and issued threats against them.

Especially in Canada, multiple incidents of Khalistan extremism were reported lately. In June this year, a tableau parade was organised in Canada celebrating the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi, which drew severe criticism from New Delhi. Multiple temples were also vandalised in Canada by pro-Khalistani protestors, with anti-India graffiti.

Amid strained ties, India stopped issuing visas to Canada amid concerns over the safety of Indian envoys there. Later, the e-visa service was resumed, and physical visa was also started in multiple categories.

In the UK, a group of extremist elements attacked the Indian High Commission in London last March.

Similarly, in the US, the Consulate General of India in San Francisco was attacked on March 19 by a group of assailants. Subsequently, on July 2, at midnight, a few people attempted to set the Consulate building on fire. The case is being probed by the National Investigation Agency.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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