The world’s so-called largest democracy has exposed itself by not only reacting to a recent statement by Canada’s prime minister. It’s also done this by summoning a Canadian envoy to register a protest over Justin Trudeau merely voicing concern over a fundamental issue.
While addressing a November 30 Zoom meeting organized to celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, Trudeau expressed his worries following news reports of agitating farmers being assaulted by Indian police.
He told participants, predominantly from the Sikh community, that Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest.
He made the statement at the very beginning of his address after welcoming Sikh members of his cabinet.
In response, the Ministry of External Affairs in India described this as “foreign interference” in an internal matter.
Moreover, Canada’s ambassador was summoned by the department. This was so that the Indian government could register its official objection against the statement of Trudeau.
This was not surprising under the intolerant right-wing Hindu nationalist regime led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, the so-called secular and fledging opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)—which claims to defend the poor and downtrodden—also condemned Trudeau and described his comment as “foreign interference”.
It was hypocritical on the part of the AAP as its leaders have periodically been visiting Canada to collect political donations and seeking support from the Indian diaspora in North America. Notably, Modi too supported the campaign for President Donald Trump, who just lost an election.
On top of that, the Modi government has been raising issues about Pakistan and Afghanistan in connection with attacks on the Hindu minority in those countries. This only reflects its their selective approach on the whole issue.
In New Delhi, police in have been harassing Punjab farmers who are camping in the city along with farmers from other Indian states. They’ve gathered to register their peaceful protest against recent controversial bills introduced by the government.
There were not only attempts to prevent Punjab farmers from entering the capital, but they were brutally assaulted by police. Those on the receiving end included seniors.
As a majority of the Punjab farmers are Sikhs, this enraged Sikhs in Canada, sparking a series of demonstrations.
The intensity of the ongoing protests in India was such that many elected officials of Indian origin in Canada and those representing ridings with sizable South Asian population were forced to make statements on Twitter or Facebook.
Significantly, this was the first time that Trudeau had made a strong public statement against state violence that has grown under Modi.
In fact, attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have increased in India ever since he became the prime minister in 2014. Trudeau has mostly remained silent about these developments until now.
Perhaps, the growing pressure from the Indian diaspora compelled him to stand up this time. Whatever may be the reason for him making a statement, we need to stand with him at this moment.
Hopefully, he will open up now and be more vocal about how minorities and Modi’s political opponents are being mistreated in India with impunity.