Monday, April 19, 2021

Indo-Canadian groups ask Canada PM to condemn farmer protest violence on Jan 26

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An umbrella group of several Indo-Canadian organisation has called upon Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “denounce” violence perpetrated by elements among those protesting farm laws in New Delhi on Republic Day just as he did with rioters in Washington DC a few days earlier in January.

In a letter to Trudeau, Azad Kaushik, president of the National Alliance of Indo-Canadians said he was writing to the PM to “reflect” the sentiments of the Indo-Canadian community which was “concerned” over previous comments he had made with regard to the farmer protests in India during a virtual event to celebrate Gurpurab.

Referring to Trudeau’s description of the attack on Capitol Hill in January as “an assault on democracy by rioters”, he pointed out that “similar violence and assault on Indian democracy happened on its Republic Day, by “extremist elements in the guise of farmers” but Canada “did not denounce it.”

Calling upon Trudeau to make such a statement of denunciation, he noted, “This would help avoid perception in the Indo-Canadian community and Canada at large of tacit support to extremist elements in the guise of farmers.”

An executive in the PMO acknowledged receipt of the letter and said, “Please be assured that your comments have been carefully reviewed.” The PMO official also said the missive had been forwarded to Canada’s foreign minister Marc Garneau for “information and consideration.”

Trudeau made the contentious remarks regarding the protests unprompted while joining a virtual celebration of Gurpurab, the 551st birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. He had commented: “I would be remiss if I didn’t start also by recognising the n ews coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning.”

He added, “Canada will always be there to defend the right to peaceful protest. 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.” Those comments drew a sharp reaction from India and had an adverse impact on bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, in an open letter to Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, former premier of the Canadian province of British Columbia Ujjal Dosanjh has urged him to take suo moto cognisance of the events on Republic Day in New Delhi and “order the investigation of the same by a Special Investigation Team monitored by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.”

In the letter, Dosanjh said, “It is quite evident from the publicly available information that the disturbance at the Red Fort was caused by rogue elements illegitimately claiming to represent the peaceful and disciplined” protesting farmers and their organisations.

He also asked the chief justice to take into account “the probability of the criminal conspiracy including the probable involvement of high officials of the government in it.”

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