Challenging India’s unity can’t be tolerated: PM

NEW DELHI, Feb 23: In a subtle message to the Trudeau Government over its perceived soft-stand on the Khalistan issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that those challenging India’s sovereignty cannot be tolerated, even as India and Canada vowed to jointly combat terror threats, including from Sikh groups such as Babbar Khalsa.
After holding extensive talks with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, Modi, at a joint press event, also asserted that there cannot be any space for those who misuse religion for political motives and promote separatism.
A document on ‘framework for cooperation on countering terrorism and violent extremism’, finalised by India’s National Security Advisor and the National Security and Intelligence Advisor of Canada, was also released after the Modi-Trudeau meet.
“They committed to work together to neutralise the threats emanating from terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Haqqani Network, LeT, JeM, Babbar Khalsa International, and the International Sikh Youth Federation,” the document said.
While Babbar Khalsa International is a Sikh militant group based in Pakistan and which reportedly operates in Canada, Germany, the UK and some parts of India, the International Sikh Youth Federation is a proscribed outfit that aims to establish an independent homeland for the Sikhs of India.
Mincing no words, Modi also said, “There should be no space for those misusing faith for political goals and sowing seeds of division. Those who challenge sovereignty, unity and integrity of our countries cannot be tolerated.”
Later, a joint statement said the two leaders reaffirmed the “breadth and scope” of Canada-India relations, based on the fundamental principle of respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the two countries.
The statement as well as Modi’s remarks come in the backdrop of Canada’s  perceived pro-Khalistan approach, criticised by many including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Trudeau’s maiden India visit has been shrouded by controversies, including an invitation to convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal for yesterday’s dinner by the Canadian High Commissioner to India. The invitation was later withdrawn.
After the talks, the two sides inked six pacts to boost cooperation in key areas including energy, information technology, trade, science and technology.
“Recognising that terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation present acute challenges to global peace, stability and prosperity, the leaders resolved to combat terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations,” the joint statement said.
Welcoming the bilateral framework on anti-terror cooperation, the leaders also called for bringing terrorists to justice and holding accountable States sponsoring terrorism, including cross-border terror, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.
“They further emphasised that no country should allow its territory to be used for terrorist and violent extremist activities,” the statement said. The leaders agreed to expand security cooperation through the NSA-level dialogue. (PTI)