Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for joining us for this weekly media briefing. I know last few weeks we were busy with the G20, but it's good to see all of you here…large numbers. I don't have any specific announcements, so may I take the floor? Why don't I start with you, Rishabh.
Rishabh: Sir, this is Rishabh from Times Now, and I have a very straight question. Are there plans to reduce the number of candidate diplomats deployed here in India?
Vineeta Pandey: This is Vineeta Pandey, from the Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle, Mr. Pannun seems to have deviated from his own agenda and now come down to Sikh versus Hindus in Canada, and he has threatened the Hindu community to leave Canada, and he's also threatened to carry out a referendum against Indian High Commissioner on 28 October. Has the Indian government sought protection for the Hindus and the Indian High Commissioner or Indian diplomats in Canada?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I have a funny feeling a lot of questions on a particular topic.
Sidhant: Sir, Sidhant from WION continuing with a question on Canada. The Canadian Prime Minister used words like potential link, and we saw the Foreign Minister also using words like maybe, if proven. We also saw comments of the US Ambassador yesterday saying that the investigation can be prejudiced. How do you, or what do you make out of these comments which are coming out?
Pranay Upadhyay: Pranay Upadhyay, Zee News se, Canada ke sath hamari stategic partnership mai is samay aisi sthiti hain toh kya woh bhi review mai hain? Aur dusri chiz, ek clarification chahiye tha ki BLS jo ki visa processing agency hain usne notification lagaya hain ki visa processing suspended hain is samay, toh kya uska status hain? Kya Canada se Indian visa is samay suspended hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Pranay Upadhyay from Zee News, considering the current situation in our strategic partnership with Canada, so is it also under review at this time? And secondly, we needed clarification regarding BLS, which is a visa processing agency, as they have issued a notification stating that visa processing is currently suspended. So, what is its status? Are Indian visas from Canada currently suspended?
Manas: Sir, this is Manas from PTI, Press Trust of India. Again on the Canada issue, Canada has given very clear indications that it has briefed the US, Australia and its strategic allies on the overall controversy and the acquisition that India has since been involved in killing of a Sikh separatist in Canada. So have we also actually in fact got in touch with our allies like US and UK and other Western partners on the whole issue?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Normally I usually take four or five questions, but I think there are a lot of hands on this. Similar questions on that. No, I saw your hand first, ma'am. Go ahead. I'll come to you. I'll try to take a few more. I think it's similar questions you can answer together.
Megha Sharma: Hi, I'm Megha Sharma from NewsX and the Pakistani Foreign Ministry has also responded on it. It's taken the name of Kulbhushan Jadhav and said that there has been espionage and sabotage that has taken place on the soil of Pakistan by the Government of India. How do you react to this? How does the Ministry of External Affairs..
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sorry, can we limit ourselves to Canada for the moment? Because I think there's a lot of Canada questions. Is that related to Canada? If not, I'll come back to you.
Megha Sharma: This is Pakistan and Pakistan has responded to what the Canadian…
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: The Canadian thing. But Kulbhushan Jadhav you mentioned. Okay.
Megha Sharma: Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is spy, who has been…
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: If it's on Canada…I'll come back. I will take the question on Canada. Okay.
Manish Jha: Sir main Manish Jha hoon TV9. Aur mera sawal ye hain ki lakhon bhartiya Canada mai reh rahe hain, unke pariwaron ko chinta hain is waqt, khas karke jab rojana ham action aur reaction kar rahe hain dono deshon ki taraf se. ek ye bhi hain ki kal ke din bahot sare log jo visa apply kar rahe hain unka –
[Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Sir, I am Manish Jha from TV9. My question is regarding the millions of Indians residing in Canada; their families are concerned at this time, especially when we see daily actions and reactions from both countries. Additionally, yesterday there were many people who are applying for visas...
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Nahin, aapka question clear nahi hain? Aap keh rahe hain ki kya woh dar rahe hain Indian goverment ke action se?
[Approximate Translation] No, your question is not clear. Are you asking if they are afraid of the Indian government's actions?
Manish Jha: Unka dar ye hain ki jo Canada jo log hain wahan par unki security ko lekar ya unke job ko lekar ya unki study ko lekar jo concern hain, usko kis tarah se bharat sarkar samajh rahi hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Their fear is about how the Indian government is perceiving the concerns related to their security, jobs, or studies in Canada.
Sahil: I am Sahil from ANI. Sir, there are multiple threats to our High Commission and Consulates in Canada. Is the Government of India planning to send its own security as well in that case?
Sudhi Ranjan: Sir, Sudhi Ranjan from Bloomberg. Sir, can you confirm whether Canada shared any evidence with us before making this allegation in the Parliament? And also whether India, or how many times India has shared its concerns and evidence on India with Canada? And what was their response to it? And an associated question...
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: What is the second part?
Shudi Ranjan: I mean, did India share evidence of nature and the others, other suspected khalistani...
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: The second question, okay. Can we hold on? We will come back to more.
Rajesh: Hi, Sir. Rajesh here from the Wall Street Journal. Wanted to ask a question, just a second. Beyond issuing robust denials, what is India's strategy on countering the allegation, which carries a risk of reputational harm to India's global standing?
Meghna: Sir, Meghna from DD News. Is MEA considering any specific advisory for the Hindu Canadians? Because we have seen an advisory for Indian nationals and students, but anything specific in view of the threats that have emerged?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Maybe I will hold off. I think I just see too many hands around. Okay. Let me start with some of the...
Rishabh, your query was on diplomats, Canadian diplomats here. Yes, we have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in our diplomatic presence, in mutual diplomatic presence. Their numbers here are very much higher than ours in Canada. The details of this are being worked out, but I assume there will be a reduction from the Canadian side.
There was a query, I think you mentioned…let me take it in a different order. Sidhant, you had a comment on words used by Canadian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and then the US Ambassador, right? Yes, I do think there is a degree of prejudice here. They have made the allegations, they have taken action on them. To us, it seems or it appears that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven.
Manas, your query was on briefing our partners, etc. Look, on this one, as I said, we have been, of course, engaged with our partners on various issues, particularly including this one. We have been discussing with them. We have conveyed our position, how we see these developments. And I think those are part of ongoing conversations. But I am happy to share a little more if you wish to talk about it. I will, I will. I will come back to that. I will mention Manas.. I will come back to Manas.
Let me just make a couple of other points. I think, Sudhi, you had a query about Canada sharing any information. No, let me clarify. No specific information has been shared by Canada on this case, either then or before or after. We have, you know, as we have said, or I think we have made very clear, we are willing to look at any specific information. We have conveyed this to the Canadian side, made it clear to them that we are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us. But so far we have not received any such specific information. There was an indirect question on that. Let me also point out that from our side, very specific evidence about criminal activities by individuals based on Canadian soil has been shared with the Canadian authorities on a regular basis, but not been acted upon. So that is the answer to both sides of it, I think you asked.
There was a query regarding…I think, Manish Jha. Aapka prashn tha security pe, dekhiye security ke mamale mai... dekhiye hamne isliye advisory jari ki hain, detailed advisory hain, unko kya karna chahiye. Ek prashn aur tha ki kuch groups ya hindus ko alag se…nahi advisory sare Indian nationals ke liye hain…hum is tarike se nahi dekhte hai. Indian nationals ke liye hai, students ke liye hain, jo travel kar rahe hain, jo waha reh rahe hain, unke sab ke liye ye advisory hain. Aur hum chahenge ki woh us advisory ko dekhain aur palan kare uska.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Manish Jha, your question was about security. Look, regarding security matters...we have issued an advisory for this specific reason, a detailed advisory that outlines what they should do. There was one more question on whether a separate advisory on certain groups or Hindus…no, the advisory is for all Indian nationals, we do not see it that way. Its for Indian nationals, students, those travelling, and those residing there. We would like them to see and follow that advisory.
Sahil, your query was on whether we are sending security. No, look, we have always believed that it is the host government's responsibility to provide security. If there are some places we have our own security posture also. But look, I don't want to discuss security measures in public. That's not an appropriate situation.
If I could come back to what Manas, you asked about. As I said, we have ongoing conversations with friends and partners. We have made our position quite clear to them on the lines that I have outlined just now. That's why I thought I will outline our position first. That there has been no specific information and we will need to look at that if provided.
On the issue of a threat, Vineeta, you mentioned for various things. Look, I don't know how to react to this. We obviously condemn any threat. But look, overall I think we should look at the larger issue, the larger issue of terrorism. And not just, you know, terrorism, but also the fact that it is being funded and supported. And we know this for some time, from our western neighbor Pakistan. But the issue of safe havens and places to operate is being provided abroad, including in Canada. And that, you know, we would expect that, that is the main focus. The question is, do we have the political will to address terrorism? Or we want to justify it and condone it. So I think that's what we would like to say.
On the issue of measures for our security, as I think the same question was asked, I don't want to discuss publicly, but of course we take – it is under the Vienna Convention. We expect host governments to provide security for our premises, for our diplomatic personnel. What exact specific measures I don't want to discuss publicly.
Pranay aapka prashn tha visa pe, maine jaise abhi bataya ki humne visa issues pe -- I thought hamne discuss kiya tha. Aapne dekha hoga ki hamare jo Canada mai High Commission aur Consulates hain unko kis tarah ke security threats woh face kar rahe hain, usko aap jante hain, isse unka jo samanya kaam kaaj hain hota hain usmai badha padi hain, disruption aayi hain, isliye hamari High Commission aur Consulates ab temporarily visa applications nahi provide kar pa rahi hain. Hum is situation ko regular basis pe review karte rahenge, iski samiksha hoti rahegi par abhi ke liye, ye security situation jo Canada mai aur Canadian government ki inaction se raha hain iske liye hum, isko asthai roop mei hum isko…visa aavedan ka jo process hain usmai badha pad rahi hai, isliye hamne usko stop karke rakha hain.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Pranay, your question was about visas. As I mentioned earlier, that on the visa issues…You may have observed the security threats that our High Commission and Consulates in Canada are facing, which as you know, have disrupted their normal operations. Therefore, our High Commission and Consulates are temporarily unable to provide visa applications. We will continue to review this situation on a regular basis, and the assessment will be going on. But for now, the security situation in Canada which is due to inaction of Canadian government…there is disruption in visa processing and that’s why we have temporarily suspended it.
I know there will be questions on this in English, so let me say that in English. You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commission and Consulates in Canada. This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our High Commission and Consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications. We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis. That's what I want to respond to on Pranay's question on visas.
Megha, I think you asked on Pakistan comments. I don't even know how to quite respond to that. Pakistan is the last country I think talking about credibility, and I don't think anybody really takes their comments seriously at all. I think that covers it.
Sahil, I had talked about security. Rajesh…Look, if there is any country, you are talking about reputational issues and reputational damage. If there is any country that needs to look at this, I think it is Canada and its growing reputation as a safe haven for terrorists, for extremists, and for organized crime. And I think that's a country that needs to worry about its international reputation. I think that covers it.
Can I take the next round of it? Yes, go ahead.
Karishma Mehrotra: This is Karishma Mehrotra from the Washington Post. I wanted you to clarify the comment where you said that there should be parity and strength between the different diplomatic missions. Are you saying that the current reduction in the Canadian mission today was a result of an Indian request to downsize its presence in New Delhi? Or was it an active measure taken by Canada to do so? Can you clarify the parity statement you made?
Siddhant: Hi, Sir. I'm Siddhant from CNN News 18. Sir, a former diplomat has made a comment on national TV a week back saying that there was always a trouble for Indian army officers to get a visa, those who have served in specific locations in India like Jammu and Kashmir, the northeastern states, to get a Canadian visa. Was the Ministry aware about it? And have we ever raised this issue to the Canadians? And also, my follow-up question. Sir EAM Jaishankar is in New York we have been told...
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: No, no, no, Sir. Honourable Minister is in Parliament.
Yeshi Seli: This is Yeshi Seli from the New Indian Express. When PM Trudeau was in Delhi for the G20, did he raise this issue of Nijjar, whilst he was here with the Prime Minister, really these allegations that he's raising in Parliament, or did this come as a surprise to all of us?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Who's us?
Yeshi Seli: Us, meaning India.
Yeshi Seli: He was here, and he had a meeting with the PM Modi, and Khalistan issue was raised over there. Did this come up in the conversation at all?
Parikshit: Parikshit from CNBC. Sir, we also have an e-visa process. Has that been suspended as well, and does this temporary suspension of visas apply to all categories? The Canadian Embassy, we are getting to know from travel associations that they're still issuing visas.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Who?
Parikshit: The Canadian Embassy. Do we have any clarity whether Canada has also taken reciprocal action and stopped?
Amiti: I'm Amiti from Business Line. The Canadian High Commission has said in a statement today that some of its diplomats have been facing threats on various social media platforms, and they have also cited the Vienna Convention and said that they would be expecting the host government to provide security. So will there be a reassessment of the security situation as far as the Canadian High Commission is concerned?
Kallol Bhattacherjee: Kallol Bhattacherjee from The Hindu. Sir, yesterday the Australian Foreign Minister reminded the issue of rule of law, and they believe that, say, a terrorist should be dealt through that process. So I really want to know what is the current Indian perspective on that.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: On rule of law?
Kallol Bhattacherjee: When it comes to dealing with terrorism, like, do you think that rule of law is something that India would follow when dealing with a terrorist or an alleged terrorist who is away from Indian shores and India in the arms of justice? How do you deal with the Australian Foreign Minister's remarks?
Reza: Reza from The Hindustan Times. Just wanted a quick clarification about the advisory we had issued yesterday. It had a very specific mention about politically condoned hate crimes. Are we saying that the Canadians haven't acted with alacrity on hate crimes of this nature?
Sunita: I'm Sunita from Times Now Nav Bharat. Sir jo Canada mai Indian students stuck hain unke parents bahot worried hain yahan pe, unke liye kya..
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] I'm Sunita from Times Now Nav Bharat. The parents of Indian students who are stuck in Canada are very worried here. What are we doing for them?
Rishabh: Sir, follow up from my last question itself. Is there any particular reason for the reduction of numbers of diplomas?
Vijaylakshmi: Vijaylakshmi from India TV se. Sir, jo March 2023 mai hamla hua tha Bhartiya Consulate pe San Francisco mai, us par NIA ne 10 accused ki list yahan par jari ki hain, logon se jankari mangi hain, august mai hamari ek team bhi waha gayi thi, us par koi update kis tarah ka wahan se hamain mil raha hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Vijaylakshmi from India TV. Sir, regarding the attack that took place on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco in March 2023, the NIA has issued a list of 10 accused individuals here, and they have been seeking information from people. In August, our team also went there. Can you provide any update on that?
Krishn Kaushik: Hi, Sir. It's Krishn Kaushik from Reuters. Sir, building on Reza's question, India had issued an advisory which mentioned growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate crimes. Can you provide any specifics, if they were shared or if they are…that you can share with us?
Mukesh Kaushik: Sir, main Mukesh Kaushik hoon Dhanik Bhaskar se. Sir jaisa ki aapne kaha ki Canada mai safe haven hain terrorist ke toh pakistan mai toh hum tackle kar lete the surgical strike wagaira se, in safe haven ko aap kaise tackle karenge? Aur G20 ki bhagidari ke baad Trudeau ki ye sab diplomatic spark samne aaya hain, kya ye jo G20 ki hissedari mai unke sath hua ya unko bataya gaya ki wahan par separatist elements se aap nahi nipat rahe hain, kya uske reaction mai ye sab ho raha hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I'm Mukesh Kaushik from Dhanik Bhaskar. As you mentioned that there are safe havens for terrorists in Canada; so in Pakistan, we deal with them through surgical strikes and the like. How do you plan to tackle these safe havens in Canada? Additionally, after Trudeau's participation in the G20, this diplomatic spark has come in forefront. Was this because of what happened during his G20 participation or because he was informed that you are not effectively dealing with separatist elements there. Is all this happening as a reaction to the above?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Kya ho raha hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] What is happening?
Mukesh Kaushik: Dono deshon ke bich mai jo tension samne aa rahi hain.
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] The tension that is emerging between the two countries.
Avinash: Avinash from the (inaudible). Sir, just a clarification about the visa. You said that the issue of visa has been temporarily suspended in Canada, huh? So, Sir, just a clarification that the Canadian passport holders, they can continue applying for Indian visa in the third countries.
Amit Bhardwaj: Sir Amit Bhardwaj from India today. There's a specific question. The gangster was killed, Sukhdool Singh, we are being told that he was staying there since 2017. So we wanted a clarification whether he was on tourist visa, student visa, because it's been quite long that he was there in Canada.
Nayanima Basu: Nayanima from ABP Live. Just want to understand, did the Trudeau government give any kind of indication that they are planning to expel an Indian diplomat a day before? And also, just one more question. What about the students studying in Canada? Will there be any special provision for them on visa issues?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: They're Indian citizens, no?
Nayanima Basu: I mean, will they be able to travel?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: What's the specific question? Travel to where?
Nayanima Basu: The visa issue.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I don't know what your question is.
Nayanima Basu: Will there be any special provision?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: For what? For an Indian visa? For Indian nationals? Something's wrong.
Nayanima Basu: No. Even for Canadian businessmen?...Okay. At least answer the first question. Thank you.
Neeraj: Sir Neeraj hoon News18 India se, jab Canadian pradhan mantri bharat aaye the G20 ke dauran, unhain bharat ki taraf se apne desh lautne ke liye vishesh viman ka offer hua tha. Kya keh kar unki taraf se reject kiya gaya tha? Aur jis hotel mai woh thehre the wahan presidential suite bhi unhain offer kiya gaya tha. Toh canadian side ne kya keh kar inkar kar diya?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I'm Neeraj from News18 India. When the Canadian Prime Minister visited India during the G20 summit, he was offered a special plane by India for his return to his country. Can you tell us the reason for its rejection from his side? And in the hotel where he was staying, he was also offered the presidential suite. So, what did the Canadian side say to decline the offer?
Sandhya: Sandhya from ET. Sir, I just want to get a sense on the trade relationship. The trade talks have halted. And if you can confirm and for how long? And just a follow-up on what Yeshi asked, what was India's response on, when Prime Minister Trudeau raised the issue of Nijjar, if that's correct?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Our PM's response?
Sandhya: Yeah, on the Khalistan issue.
Sridhar: Sridhar from the Asian age. Sir, my question is that are we also looking at reducing the numbers of our diplomats there? I mean, you made it clear that the Canadian diplomatic strength here will be effectively reduced. But are we also, if we find that the security situation continues to deteriorate, are we looking at reducing what we did with Pakistan? We reduced it by half the diplomatic strength. Are we thinking on those lines? And what happens to all the students who have been applying to join Canadian universities, who whose visas are under process? Because there's every chance Canada may reciprocate.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: It's a very different issue. Okay, I'll come back. You're talking about Canadian visa, right?
Sridhar: Yeah. OK. And the students as well.
Vineet Dikshit: Vineet Dikshit from Newsgate. Sir, you have given an advisory for people living in Canada to log on to madad.gov.in. How many people there have got themselves registered before as the advisory said before the situation gets…
Devirupa: Hi, this is Devirupa from The Wire. I just want to clarity on the issue of Australia and US had both asked India to join the investigation. So I believe you earlier said that if Canada showed evidence that you will take a look at it. So you're not saying that you will join the investigation at this time, right?
Neville: Neville from Sky News. I just wanted to know if the government is concerned that this might end up being a problem between the two communities in Canada with threats being made to a certain community out there. Especially…
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: In Canada?
Neville: In Canada between Hindus and Sikhs, where this sikh person has threatened a certain community. And also with regard to the Indians who have gone there to study and for tourism.
Santosh Thakur: Sir main Santosh Thakur hoon Navbharat se. Main ye janna chahta hoon Sir ke trigger point kya hain ki all of sudden itna badh gaya aur India assess nahi kar paya situation ko?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I'm Santosh Thakur from Navbharat. I would like to know, what is the trigger point that caused the situation to escalate so suddenly, and why couldn't India assess it?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Kis situation ko assess nahi kar paye?
Which situation could not be assessed?
Santosh Thakur: Ke Canada ke sath hamara relation itna kharab ho raha hain, trigger point kya tha?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] What was the trigger point that caused our relationship with Canada to deteriorate so significantly?
Ashish: Sir, Ashish from ABP News. Sir, ye bahot sari reports aayi hain ki american side se bhi comments hain, australian side se bhi hain, jo Five eye intelligence wale hain, kya Indian government se kisi foreign government ne Canada ke alawa is issue ko lekar raise kiya? aur hamara response un governments ko kya tha?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, Ashish from ABP News. Sir, there have been many reports suggesting comments from the American side, as well as from the Australian side, and from the Five eye intelligence group. Has any foreign government, apart from Canada, raised this issue with the Indian government, and what was our response to these governments?
Sania: Yeah, hi. I'm Sania from CNN. Given all that's happened in the last 72 hours, how would you describe the current diplomatic ties between India and Canada?
Neeraj Dubey: Sir main Neeraj Dubey hoon Prabhasakshi se, mera prashn ye hain ki jo five eye hain unse paryapt samarthan nahi mila, isko kaise dekhte hain aap? Kya isse jhatka laga Trudeau ko? Aur dusra Sir, abhi khas taur pe jo Indian students hain unko lekar bahot sare sansadon ne pradhan mantri se bhi chinta jatayi hain, mantriyon se bhi mil rahe hain, kya hum koi help desk ya help line number waha pe dene ja rahe hain?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I'm Neeraj Dubey from Prabhasakshi. My question is, how do you view the lack of sufficient support from the Five eye? Did it come as a shock to Trudeau? Secondly, currently, there is a lot of concern, especially regarding Indian students. Many Members of Parliament have expressed their concerns to the Prime Minister, meeting ministers too. Are we planning to establish a help desk or helpline number there to assist them?
Jaspreet Bhushan: Yes, Sir Jaspreet Bhushan, the Australian foreign minister, I think she has said that the Australian side has raised the question of the Canadian allegation with Indian counterparts, or probably with the Indian side. So has it happened after the statement by the Canadian prime minister in his parliament, or they have been in touch earlier also?
Dhairya Maheshwari: Sir, Dhairya Maheshwari, Sputnik India. Canadian MP Chandra Arya, he has expressed concerns that Hindus in Canada, they have gotten in touch with him expressing concerns about their safety. So has the Indian High Commission or Indian Consulate, have they received any such concerns from Indian citizens in the country?
Siddhant: I am Siddhant from CNN News18. Again, Sir, this question has been flagged off by the Indian community in Canada so that there is one other diplomat in the Indian High Commission in Canada who is being targeted by pro-Khalistani publications, newspapers, and his name is appearing in almost all newspapers. So the Indian community is raising concerns regarding his security, Sir, because his name is...
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: The Indian diplomat, right?
Siddhant: Indian diplomat. Along with the one who got expelled, they are blaming him also for the activities. Allegations are being made.
Speaker: Sir you said that we have sent the list to Canada to take action against those who are pro-Khalistan activists, and no response has been given. How many times have we sent the list?
Speaker: Sir ek chota sa clarification hain Hardeep Singh Nijjar ko lekar, kyu ki Canada ke immigration minister ne claim kiya hain, pahle kaha 2015 mai Canada ka citizen bana, ab kaha hain 2007 mai. What records do we have, and whatever records we have provided to Interpol for his red-corner notice?
[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, there is a small clarification regarding Hardeep Singh Nijjar, because Canada's immigration minister has claimed that he became a Canadian citizen in 2015, but now it is being said that it was in 2007. What records do we have, and what records have we provided to Interpol for his red-corner notice?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Thank you. I think a large number of questions. Let me try to take them.
Karishma, on your query regarding parity, I think you didn't get what I'm saying. We had informed, or we have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity of strength and rank equivalents in our diplomatic presence, our mutual diplomatic presence. We feel that we think that the numbers are much higher, and those details are being worked out, and we think that hence, the number…there'll be reduction. So yes, I presume this is pursuant to our conversation or request.
Yes. Siddhant, on the issue of Canadian visa, right? You asked that first round. Look, I don't want to get into visa requirements of foreign governments, but yes, we have seen reports and heard some things, and if there are cases where we believe that our people are not being given a fair treatment or there be discrimination, we do take these things up. But I would not like to comment on individual cases, but yes, discrimination in how visas are granted by the Canadian side is something of concern, and there have been cases in the past. But I would not like to go into individual responses.
Yeshi, and I think that somebody else also asked this. Look, we had issued a press release, I think, on the 19th it was, I have a copy here; where we said, yes, these allegations were raised by Prime Minister Trudeau with Prime Minister, and Prime Minister rejected them. I think that's pretty clear about it, so let me reiterate that. I think the same response I think somebody else raised that, yes, those were raised and they were rejected.
Parikshit, e-visas…yes, e-visas also are on temporary suspension. They also…because they would at some point also involve our functioning of our Canadian High Commission or Diplomats there, all categories. You said which categories? All categories of visas are suspended. This is, let me explain again. The issue is not about travel to India. We are, you know…the issue is the question is not about travel to India. Those who have valid visas, those who have other kind of documents like OCIs are free to travel to India. But the issue is of incitement of violence, the inaction by the Canadian authorities, and a creation of an environment that disrupts the functioning of our High Commission and Consulates. That's what's making us stop temporarily this issuance of visas or providing visa services. And as I said, we will be reviewing this situation on a regular basis.
Amiti, you raised the issue of the Canadian diplomats facing threats here. That's, we take our obligation of Vienna Conventions very seriously. And if there are specific threats and things, I'm sure they are in touch with our security agencies and we will certainly be providing all security and all support to foreign diplomats in India. We would accordingly also expect that the Canadian authorities show similar sensitivity to posters threatening assassination and incitement to violence against our diplomats, attacks on our premises, or such kind of threats and take their obligation under the Vienna Convention a little more seriously.
Kallol, the question on how we look at rule of law. We certainly abide by rule of law. I think if there is doubt on that…then we are in a different conversation. We would, and this leads me to the question some of you asked. We have been sharing details of fugitives, from justice who have run away, who are seeking safe havens in Canada and elsewhere to come back to India and face injustice where there's economic fugitives or there's terrorists. I think that's the way rule of law works. I don't even know what else to tell you how to handle. Easier would be if the host governments where they're seeking safe havens take action against such terrorists.
Reza, yes, the advisory was comprehensive. There was a term called politically condoned activities, hate crimes. You said alacrity, they didn't respond to the alacrity. I would go further and say they did not take it at all. It seems there is a feeling that these are part of freedom of expression or whatever you call it, and that such hate crimes are being condoned in the political environment and the political system. And certainly, that is something of concern and we have flagged it.
Sunita, aapka prashna tha Indian students ke bare mai, dekhiye Indian students jo waha pe hain hamne jaise kaha advisory hamne issue kiya hain, hamare High Commission, hamare Consulates wahan chal rahe hain aur kaam ho raha hain waha, koi dikkat ho unse contact karain, par hamne advisory mai kaha hain ki ahtiyat barte, dekhain kya ho raha hain, aise specific koi hamare pass abhi additional inputs nahi hain. Ye prashn kisi aur ne bhi pucha tha ki hamare students, aur students jo hain unko hamare visa policy se koi unko fark nahi padna chahiye, woh Indian citizens hain, aur Canada kya karega, ye Canadian authorities se aapko puchna padega, main uske baar mai kuch keh nahi paunga.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sunita, your question was about Indian students. Well, regarding Indian students who are there, as I mentioned, we have issued an advisory, and our High Commission and Consulates are operational, and work is ongoing there. If there are any difficulties, they can contact them. However, in our advisory, we have advised them to exercise caution and monitor the situation. At the moment, we don't have any specific additional inputs. Another question was raised by someone else regarding our students…our students should not be affected by our visa policy, they are Indian citizens; and whether Canada will take any action is something you would need to inquire with Canadian authorities. I cannot comment on that matter.
Rishabh, your question was a follow-up to why this particular step is being taken on parity of strength and rank equivalence. Frankly, yes, the reason is that we have seen Canadian diplomatic interference in our internal affairs. This is a factor that is being taken into account for seeking parity in strength and rank equivalence.
Somebody asked, I think, Krishn, you asked about specifics of some action. Look, these are not things that are to be released publicly, so I'm not in a position to share the same.
Vijayalakshmi, aapne kaha tha San Francisco Consulate mai…koi update aisa nahi hain, aapne dekha hoga hamare security agencies ne koi list nikali hain, unka woh cooperation chal raha hain US ke sath aur hum chahte hain jo iske piche the unke upar action liya jaye. I think woh operation chal rahi hai US authorities ke sath, par ye hamare dayre mai nahi aata hain utna, ki update ho to hamari taraf se hum batayenge.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Vijayalakshmi, what you mentioned about the San Francisco Consulate, there is no update on that. As you may have seen, our security agencies have issued a list, and there cooperation is going on with the United States. We want action to be taken against those who were involved. I think the operation is underway in collaboration with US authorities, but it is not within our purview. If there is an update, we will share it from our end.
Mukesh Kaushik aapne jo sawal pucha tha…main kisi aur ke sath koi comparision nahi karna chahta hoon, let me clarify, wahan safe havens de rahe hain Canada mai, wahan pe ham chahenge ki Canadian sarkar safe havens na de, aur jinke against aise terrorism ke charges hain unke uper action le aur either woh waha action le ya justice face karne ke liye yahan bheje.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Mukesh Kaushik, the question you asked...I don't want to make any comparison with others. Let me clarify; safe havens are being provided in Canada, and we would like the Canadian government not to provide such safe havens. Action should be taken against those who face terrorism charges, either in Canada or by sending them here to face justice.
Mujhe pucha gaya tha, I think somebody asked how many such cases were there. My understanding is over 20 individuals. I don't have an exact number. That's for security agencies. We have sought either extradition requests or other kind of assistance related to that. So at least more than 20, maybe 25 individuals we have requested. And not just recently. For many years we've been requesting and the response has not been helpful at all.
Avinash, your question was third countries, Canadian citizens applying? Yes, also will be applicable. Canadian citizens in third countries will not, will also be subject to the same temporary visa suspensions because at some point this comes through our High Commission. Our Consulates need to be involved in that process. So that's not going to happen.
Amit, I think your question was Sukhdool. I think, to be fair, this is not a question that's really in our…it's more of a security thing. All I can say is, we have seen reports in this. Frankly, it seems that if you have so much organized crime, this violence has been there. There's a lot of violence when organized crime has such a large presence. That's all I would like to say on that.
Santhosh aapka prashn tha trigger. Pata nahi aap kya trigger keh rahe hain aur aap kis parpeksha se dekh rahe hain? Hamare parpeksha se bahot simple hain, hum keh rahe hain ki wahan pe jo extremist hain, jo terrorist hain, jo organized crime mai involved hain unko hum chahte hain ki action liya jaye. Canadian goverment nahi le rahi hain, aur inka jo allegations hain uspe maine jaise kaha ki hamare pass koi aisa koi specific information nahi share kiya hain, toh uske baad humne phir action jo lena pada sab isse related hain, ki terrorism pe action nahi ho raha hain.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Santhosh, your question was about the trigger. I'm not sure what you mean by "trigger," and from which perspective you are viewing it. From our perspective, it's very simple. We are saying that those who are extremists, terrorists, or involved in organized crime in Canada, we want action to be taken against them. The Canadian government is not taking action, and as I mentioned earlier, we have not received any specific information regarding their allegations. So, after that, all the actions we had to take are related to the fact that action is not being taken against terrorism.
Other countries, Ashish aapka prashn tha, other countries, I think, Abhishek aapka bhi prashn tha, the Australian side has said…look, I think some of these countries have made public that they took up the issue with us and I think I also said that we are in conversations with many of our partners. I don't want to say which of the countries because let them mentioned it. I don't want to get into which countries have been saying what. But as I said, we have ongoing conversations with our friends and partners. I've highlighted our position very clearly and this is what we have shared with them. It's the same thing I'm telling you that we've been telling them.
Neeraj ji aapka prashn Five eyes ke sath tha, pata nahi aap kya puchna chahte the, par humne unse bhi yahi kaha hain, ki dekhiye hamara jo position hain ismai terrorism ka mudda hain, ismai security ka mudda hain, wahan pe jo actions le rahe hain hamare diplomats ke against ya kisi aur ke against usko kis tarah se respond karain.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Neeraj ji, your question was related to the Five eyes. I'm not sure what you wanted to ask, but we have told them the same thing. That our position in this matter, it has the issue of terrorism and security, and how to respond to the actions against our diplomats or anyone else in this regard.
Sania, your question was, describe this again broadly, MPhil question, maybe not PhD. I think you would make a good assessment. I don't think we are here to assess our relationship. I think that's beyond the purview of a weekly presser. But clearly we would expect better steps by the Canadian authorities on our very significant concerns about terrorism, about security, of our diplomats, of Indian community, and overall anti-India activities that are being operated or given a safe haven in Canada.
One question was…I think there was a question about the targeting of diplomats. Also, I think Nayanima your question was there. Look, I think the issue is larger. As I mentioned, this is not about individual groups or this group. I don't think that is how we are looking at it at all. I think, Neville, your question was also that. I think we should look at it on a larger issue of there are elements linked to organized crime linked to terrorists, secessionists or extremists who are operating freely. They are being politically condoned. They seem to have a free run. And we would expect that the Canadian government take action against that as regards to the Indian origin or Indian community or Indian diaspora. Look, I think they have been speaking out very clearly. We have talked about the advisory for Indian nationals and we would hope that they feel safe. They feel that they can operate there.
Nayanima Basu: Did they communicate the expulsion of the Indian diplomat.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sorry, the expulsion. On the issue of the expulsion, yes, obviously when our diplomat is asked to leave, they communicate to us. One, exactly, I will have to check. But as I said, we were of course made aware that he has been asked to leave. But I don't have the exact timing with me.
And there was something…somebody asked about targeting of another. Look, again, I'm very hesitant to get into individual cases. This brings me to the larger issue of our violence being incited not just against one diplomat, but you see our High Commissioner, our Consul Generals are on posters, their faces. I think all of that worries us. It's not about just one individual or otherwise.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sorry. Look, as I said, we are looking at parity. Your question was, are we looking at protection of our personnel? We're looking at parity in rank and diplomatic strength. We think the Canadian numbers will probably come down, but the discussions are going on. I have no information to share at this point of any change in our diplomatic posture. Of course, if the security situation changes, I would not like to speculate on that. I think I will stop there. I think I've spoken on the students. I will take no further.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Yes. Regarding the issue, jo aapne pucha, dekhiye ab individual, for protocol reasons main batana nahi chahta hoon. Canadian pradhan mantri ji ka plane mai kuch dikkat thi, woh ja nahi paye thodi der ke liye, humne hamari taraf se jo bhi support hum de sakte hain hamne offer kiya. Par finally unka plane theek ho gaya aur woh chale gaye. Baki issues pe mai tippani nahi kar paunga.
[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Yes. Regarding the issue you asked about, you see, for protocol reasons, I don't want to disclose individual details. There were some issues with the Canadian Prime Minister's plane, and he couldn't depart for a short while. We offered support we could from our end. However, eventually, his plane was fixed, and he departed. I won't be able to comment further on other issues.
How many people have registered? I don't have that number right now because there is a large number of Indian students and this is a comment I would like to make overall. We would encourage students and Indian nationals abroad in all countries to register but in Canada currently because of the heightened security situation we would certainly expect all of them to register. They must be doing so. I don't have an immediate update. I'll get back to you at some point.
Okay. Is there any non-Canada questions because I think we will shut the door on that one. Abhishek. Go ahead.
Abhishek: Sir my question is regarding Republic Day invitation for the chief guest. So has India invited U.S. President for the Republic Day celebration as chief guest and also is India planning Quad summit talks around that time?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: What talks?
Abhishek: Quad summit talks around that time.
Meghna Dev: Sir, an addition to that…Meghna Dev from DD news, there are some reports that the leaders of Quad countries have also been invited for the Republic Day.
Sudhi Ranjan: Sir, the Indian military is holding a conclave of the chiefs of the Indo-Pacific nations.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Yes. Yes.
Sudhi Ranjan: And I'm wondering as to whether the Canadian chief is going to come or not. Because he was supposed to come. Is there…
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Anybody else? Okay. Go ahead.
Yeshi Seli: This is Yeshi from the New Indian Express. I wanted to know if there's any update on that Indian child in German foster care. What is the latest on that front? Parents I believe had gone to Germany but they couldn't get a glimpse of the child.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Okay. I see no further questions. I'll close with this.
On the issue of the invitations, look, for the 26th January, as you're all very well aware – and I don't do crystal ball gazing – these engagements are announced at the appropriate time. We will certainly share with you information once we are in a position to do so. I'm sorry to disappoint you.
On the Canadian chief for this event, my request would be to reach out to the Canadian authorities and see if they're coming. I haven't heard anything particular, one way or the other.
Yeshi on the issue of the child in Germany, yes, I think I have a slight update since you asked. You know, following our consistent efforts, German authorities did grant consular access to the child on 31st August. The interaction with the child included elements of cultural immersion, with a view to enable the child to remain connected with Indian traditions and culture. Resource material relating to Indian festivals, customs and practices were handed over by our Embassy, with the expectation that the child's caregiver would incorporate the same in her routine to enable her to remain in touch with her faith and culture. Let me add that we remain in constant engagement with German authorities on this matter to safeguard the child's cultural rights, national identity and to ensure her return to India.
Thank you very much. That's been a very long presser. Thank you for bearing with it. Good evening.