Amid ongoing controversy between India and Canada, the former has hardened its stance against Canada, and is exploring options to approach the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over Canadian Government’s inaction against terror funding operations on its soil despite New Delhi having shared “credible and clinching” evidence with it umpteen times.
India is planning to share a “dossier of the old and new evidence” with the Paris-based watchdog, which oversees the implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat money laundering and terror financing, The Sunday Guardian has learnt from diplomatic sources here.
“Canada acquiescing to India’s demand to reduce its diplomatic strength by 41 is not enough as India’s key concern is about funding and shielding of Khalistanis on Canadian soil,” a source said, adding, “diplomats, security and probe agency officials have been asked to collect relevant evidence to be shared with the FATF.”
“The core issue in India’s relationship with Canada is the safe space that terrorists and criminal elements have secured in that country.” This recent statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, is enough to highlight India’s major concern and priority in the ties between New Delhi and Ottawa.
“With Canada seeking to divert the focus from the core issue of Khalistani elements having a free run on its soil, India has no other option but to report Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inaction against pro-Khalistan elements in his country to FATF. India is, therefore, planning to collect evidence of terror funding and financing emanating from Canada and present it to FATF,” a person aware of the development told The Sunday Guardian.
According to diplomatic officials here, the Trudeau government is trying to divert the attention of the global community from the core issue of terror activities by accusing India of escalation and violating the Vienna Convention regarding Canadian diplomatic presence.
In fact, India immediately rejected Canada’s allegations, explaining its position powerfully. At the same time, the Indian government decided to ensure that the core issue of terror funding on Canadian soil is not relegated to the background.
India has already come down heavily on Canada for “providing safe haven to terrorists” amid souring of diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Ottawa over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The MEA spokesperson said the larger issue was that of terrorism, terror-funding and safe havens being provided to terrorists abroad. “Terrorism is being funded and supported by our western neighbour Pakistan, but the issue of safe havens and places to operate are being provided abroad, including in Canada,” Baghchi said.
“Now, the Indian government wants the focus to be shifted back to this core issue. Officials have been asked to raise it at every appropriate forum including FATF. In this context, evidence shared with Canada in the past will matter,” a source said. Recently, in an interview with a news channel, former Director General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Y.C. Modi had revealed that the agency shared multiple inputs about Khalistani militants on Canadian soil with Ottawa, but there was no action by the Trudeau government.
Officials say that the Canadian government never helped India whenever New Delhi tried to deport or extradite any terrorist or militant from Canada. “This is also another fact that needs to be shared with the FATF,” an official added. The NIA on 20 September revealed details of 43 people associated with a terror-gangster network having links to Canada, amid strained diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Now Canada will be asked to take action against them if any of them are present on its soil, said officials here. India wants the Canadian government not to provide safe haven to terrorists and take action against those who are facing terrorism charges or send them here to face charges.
“India would mount pressure on FATF to be tough on Canada in the background of all these details,” a source said.
In fact, Justin Trudeau is frustrated after being criticised for not being able to share specific information that India repeatedly sought on his allegation linking India to the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. So, he is using the “diplomatic issues” to divert attention from this as well. His government accused India of flouting the Vienna Convention in withdrawing diplomatic immunity from 41 Canadian diplomats.
India rejected it, saying no international norm was violated seeking parity in the mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa. “We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms,” the MEA said, countering Canada’s charge.
“We have seen the Statement by the Government of Canada on 19 October regarding Canadian diplomatic presence in India. The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa.
We have been engaged with the Canadian side on this over the last month in order to work out the details and modalities of its implementation. Our actions in implementing this parity are fully consistent with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which states the following: ‘In the absence of specific agreement as to the size of the mission, the receiving State may require that the size of a mission be kept within limits considered by it to be reasonable and normal, having regard to circumstances and conditions in the receiving State and to the needs of the particular mission’,” the MEA statement read.