India has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of inciting “extremist activities” and warns that his remarks about farmers’ protests could harm relations between the two countries.
In a statement issued by the office of India’s minister of external affairs today, the Indian government said the Canadian high commissioner was summoned and told that comments by Trudeau, some of his cabinet ministers and MPs raising concerns about New Delhi’s response to protesting Indian farmers “constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs.”
“Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada,” the statement reads.
“These comments have encouraged gatherings of extremist activities in front of our High Commission and consulates in Canada that raise 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.”
Farmers are protesting new laws imposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who says the changes will allow farmers to set their own prices and sell their crops to private businesses. Until now, Indian farmers have sold their crops directly to the government at guaranteed prices.
Farmers are worried the new law will leave them vulnerable to exploitation by corporations and could devastate them financially – especially during the global pandemic.
Indian authorities recently used water cannons, tear gas and batons to break up protests by activists who had set up blockades and were trying to enter Delhi. Some Canadian farmers have staged rallies and launched social media campaigns in solidarity with the Indian farmers.
Earlier this week, Trudeau called the Indian government’s response to the protests “concerning.”
“We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns,” the PM said.
His words drew a swift rebuke from an Indian foreign ministry spokesperson, who called his comments “ill-informed.”
During a news conference Friday, Trudeau was asked if he fears his comments have damaged Canada’s relationship with India.
“Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protest anywhere around the world and we’re pleased to see moves toward de-escalation and dialogue,” he said.