The foreign ministry deemed it “very reprehensible” that a politically motivated exercise by extreme groups was permitted to take place in a friendly country, in one of its strongest remarks on separatist action in Canada targeted at India.

The so-called Khalistan referendum was a “farcical exercise organised by extremists and radical forces,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said here on Thursday. “You are all aware of the history of violence in this area.” After receiving three diplomatic communications from the South Block, the MEA responded after Ontario failed to take any action to halt the purported “referendum” in Canada’s Brampton on September 19. According to reports, Canada had stated that its citizens have the freedom to congregate and to legally and peacefully express their opinions.

The Canadian government has also declared that it respects India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and that it will not recognise the sham referendum. The MEA was not happy with the reaction, though.