India on Thursday said that Canada needed to look into its growing reputation as a “safe haven” to terrorists, extremists and those involved in organised crime.
“We want the Canadian government to not do so and take action against those who have terrorism charges or send them here to face justice,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. “We have sought either extradition requests or assistance related to 20 to 25 individuals over the years but the response has not been helpful at all.”
Bagchi also said that New Delhi has seen “diplomatic interference” from Canada in its internal affairs.
The remarks come amid a widening rift between the two countries in the wake of Canada’s allegations that India may have been involved in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in suburban Vancouver.
Earlier in the day, India indefinitely suspended visa services in Canada citing “operational reasons”.
Bagchi said that the decision to suspend visa operations in Canada was taken in view of the security threats to Indian officials.
“You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commission and Consulates in Canada,” he said. “This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our High Commission and Consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications.”
The spokesperson, however, added that authorities will review the situation on a regular basis.
Bagchi also said that the Canadian diplomatic presence in New Delhi is higher than that of India in Ottawa and that there should be parity in strength.
Bagchi also said that there is a “degree of prejudice” in Canada’s allegation against India and termed it as “politically motivated”. He added that no specific intelligence about Nijjar’s killing has been shared with India yet.
Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh leader was killed by masked gunmen on June 18 in Surrey, outside Vancouver. He was the head of the Khalistan Tiger Force, which is designated a terrorist outfit in India. He was also among India’s most wanted persons and one of three Khalistan supporters who have died overseas in unusual circumstances in recent months.