India on Friday summoned Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel, and told him that the comments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others in his cabinet on the farmers' protest constituted an "unacceptable interference" in the country's internal affairs and these actions, if continued, will have a "seriously damaging" impact on the bilateral ties.
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, backing the agitating farmers in India, had said that Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protests, and had expressed concern over the situation.
"The Canadian High Commissioner was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs today and informed that comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some Cabinet Ministers and members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs," the MEA said, adding a demarche was made to the envoy. "Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada," the ministry said.
The MEA said these comments by the Canadian leaders have encouraged "gatherings of extremist activities" in front of the Indian High Commission and Consulates in Canada, raising issues of safety and security.
"We expect the Canadian government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimize extremist activism," the MEA said.
On Tuesday, the ministry had reacted very strongly to the comments made by Trudeau and some other Canadian leaders, terming them as "unwarranted".
"We have seen some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country. It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes," the MEA had said.
When asked by a journalist about India's reaction, Trudeau said in Ottawa, "Canada will always stand up for the right to peaceful protest anywhere around the world. We are pleased to see moves towards deescalation and dialogue."
On whether his comments would damage ties with India, he reiterated: "Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protests and human rights around the world.
Canada has a significant number of Indians and most of them are from Punjab. Canada's Indian-origin Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan too had expressed concerns over reports of the "peaceful protesters being brutalised in India".
"The reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized in India are very troubling. Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right," he tweeted on Sunday.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting for the last nine days at the borders of Delhi against three farm laws. Dubbing these laws as "anti-farmer", these farmers claim that the newly enacted legislations would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.