NEW DELHI: India on Thursday said the right to free speech should not be allowed to be used as a shield for those inciting violence and legitimising terrorism, in what was being seen as a message to Canada, the UK, Australia and the US where Indian diplomatic personnel and installations have been targeted by Khalistanis.
“In the name of freedom of expression, we should not be giving space to those who advocate violence or propagate separatism or legitimise terrorism,” said Arindam
, spokesperson in the
ministry of external affairs
Bagchi was responding to questions from reporters about the “kill posters” circulated to target Indian diplomats in Canada, the UK and the US against the backdrop of a pattern of terror sympathisers and those inciting violence against India and its citizens getting away by invoking the freedoms guaranteed in the countries where they are based.
Asked about reported remarks of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on Canada’s principle of freedom of expression, Bagchi said the issue was about advocating violence and propagating separatism. “Let me make the larger point that the issue is not about freedom of expression but its misuse for advocating violence, for propagating separatism and for legitimising terrorism. That’s what we would like to emphasise,” he said.
“Inciting violence against our diplomats and our diplomatic premises abroad are unacceptable and we condemn them in the strongest terms,” Bagchi further said as he stressed the obligation of governments to ensure the security of foreign diplomats. “This is primarily a responsibility that we expect that host governments will discharge as per their obligations under the Vienna Convention and that we are reminding them of what they need to do and also bringing to their attention specific instances which might come to our attention,” he said.
Indian missions are of utmost priority to the government and New Delhi has taken it up with countries concerned, he said. The government had summoned the high commissioner of Canada to discuss the threats to diplomats.
Bagchi said the arson attempt at the Indian consulate in San Francisco on July 2 was quickly brought under control by local authorities, adding the US administration had responded “very promptly” at senior levels.