Toronto : National Convener of the Canada India Foundation Ritesh Malik on Thursday said the Canadian government should not support those spreading hatred between communities in the guise of freedom of expression and claimed that the government has failed to take appropriate action against them.
“Freedom of expression does not mean that you should bully others or you should create hatred amongst communities or promote hate speech or violent crime against others. But somehow I think the government has failed to act on these elements and these elements have been feeling encouraged,” Malik said.
While mentioning the viral video of a Sikh for Justice (SFJ) member threatening the Hindu community in Canada to leave the country, he said the groups are becoming more and more aggressive.
He added, “If you guys saw this guy from SFJ whosoever recently like two days ago, same day, probably the day Prime Minister Trudeau gave that statement in parliament. He actually issued a video where he is openly threatening Hindus to go back to India and accusing them of siding with like we are not siding with India or Canada.”
The foundation convener also spoke about the participation of these elements in policy-making and governments and endorsed that these extremist elements are bullying and dictating the people.
He added, “Because they are very vocal and they have kind of I'm not hesitant to say that they have kind of infiltrated into the policy, the government and all these places. So they always try to dictate, bully and make politicians feel that if they are not on their side, they won't get the votes. So which is a concerning situation.”
In an exclusive virtual interview with ANI, Ritesh Malik expressed concern over the escalating tensions between India and Canada after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged India’s involvement in killing of “Khalistani terrorist”.
He said, “India and Canada have been not on good terms for long now because of certain issues which probably they are not able to reach consensus on or take action on. But whatever has happened in last few days nobody expected that to go to that length.”
“It's very disturbing for us as community members, as Indo-Canadians, who are always working towards building bridges between the two countries. I mean, both are vibrant democracies and we all expect these countries to work together,” he added.
Ritesh Malik also recognised the Canadian government’s way of handling the situation and said that the implications would encourage other extreme elements to thrive.
He said, “We don't know what happened. We don't want to know. This is between the governments to sort out but like the implications it will have long term and it is also giving encouragement and confidence to other extreme elements that government is on their side, which again, is not good.”.
On Wednesday, Indian nationals, students in Canada and those planning on travelling to the country were advised to exercise caution. Indian nationals and Indian students in Canada were advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen growing anti-India activities, according to a release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Indian students in Canada have been particularly advised to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant.
The updated travel advisory for students came amidst a strain in India-Canada relations after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday alleged that the Indian government was behind the fatal shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, who was a designated terrorist in India, was gunned down outside a Gurdwara, in a parking area in Canada's Surrey, British Columbia on June 18.
Trudeau during a debate in the Canadian Parliament, claimed his country's national security officials had reasons to believe that "agents of the Indian government" carried out the killing of the Canadian citizen, who also served as the president of Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara.
The allegations made by the Canadian Prime Minister and foreign minister were rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs in India which dubbed the statements as absurd.
"We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of the Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated" the statement said.