New Delhi, India: Tensions between Canada and India increased, resulting in both countries expelling a diplomat from the other side. The reason for this escalation is that Canada is investigating allegations that link the Indian state to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader. India has vehemently denied these allegations, calling them “absurd”.
India’s foreign ministry issued an advisory on Wednesday, citing the increasing anti-India activities, politically-condoned hate crimes, and criminal violence happening in Canada.
The Indian Government has consistently responded to the demands of Sikh separatists in the West for Khalistan, which is a separate homeland for Sikhs.
The Khalistan movement was at its peak in India during the 1980s when a violent insurgency centered in the Sikh-majority Punjab state. The movement has been suppressed by force and has little resonance in India now, but it still has a significant following among some in the Sikh diaspora residing in countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that intelligence agencies were investigating whether “agents of the government of India” were involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen – India had designated him a terrorist in 2020.
India Canada ties on the brink. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau accuses Indian govt of killing Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the Canadian Parliament. pic.twitter.com/gXpMrWWuTf
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) September 19, 2023
“Any involvement of a foreign government in killing a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Mr Trudeau told the Canadian parliament on Monday.
India reacted strongly, saying that Canada was trying to “shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists” who had been given shelter there.
Some Indian media reports claimed the statement from Delhi followed a similar Canadian advisory for its citizens traveling to India. Canada’s government confirmed its travel advice for India had been updated on Monday but said it had been “as part of pre-scheduled and routine maintenance in the section on travel health information”.
Amid the India-Canada diplomatic standoff, Canadian MP Chandra Arya alleged that it is concerning to hear reports of extremist elements “threatening” and “attacking” Hindu-Canadians to return to India. The recent activities of certain unlawful organizations, such as Sikhs for Justice, have deeply troubled the Indian World Forum (IWF). These groups have been targeting the Indian diaspora in Canada, causing great concern for our community.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, chief of the banned Khalistani separatist outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), has threatened Indo-Canadian Hindus and asked them to return to India. Pannun further said that Indo-Canadian Hindus have “repudiated” their allegiance to Canada and the Canadian Constitution. The pro-Khalistani separatists also claimed that pro-Khalistan Sikhs have always been loyal to Canada and have always upheld the laws and the country’s Constitution.
Mr. PM @JustinTrudeau R U allegedly supporting this language towards #Hindus & Kill #India in the name of Freedom of speech & expression in #Canada. Please clear ur stand.@DLeBlancNB @SurreyRCMP @Dave_Eby @mikefarnworthbc @HCI_Ottawa @MEAIndia #HindusUnderAttack #Hatespeech pic.twitter.com/sXqBOqVTd8
— Sameer Kaushal 🇨🇦❤🇮🇳 (@itssamonline) September 18, 2023
His latest threat comes a day after Canadian PM Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of a “potential link” to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). In June this year, Nijjar was shot by unidentified gunmen outside a gurudwara in Canada’s Surrey.
Hindus, you have repudiated your allegiance to Canada and the Canadian Constitution. Your destination is India. Leave Canada, go to India,” Pannun is seen saying in a now-viral video titled ‘Leave Canada, Indo-Hindus, Go India’. “Pro-Khalistan Sikhs have always been loyal to Canada. They have always sided with Canada and they have always upheld the laws and the Constitution,” he added.
The SFJ chief has also urged Canadian Sikhs to gather in Vancouver on October 29 for a referendum to vote on whether the Indian High Commissioner Verma is responsible for Nijjar’s killing. Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals and students in Canada amid a simmering row over the killing of a Khalistani separatist.
The MEA had summoned the Canadian High Commissioner Cameron MacKay and informed about India’s decision to expel the Canadian diplomat based in India. “The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” MEA said in a statement.
“Canada is a safe haven for terrorists and crime” says @MEAIndia #canadaindia #IndiaCanadaRelations #CanadaSupportTerrorism #KhalistaniTerrorist #DUSU8434 #GGHomeComing #GeneralElectionNow #RahulGandhi #LawrenceBishnoi #GoldyBrar pic.twitter.com/6vVb5y7TJb
— Vidarbha Times (@VidarbhaaTimes) September 21, 2023
After the statement by MEA, The Canadian government on Wednesday discarded India’s warning to its citizens against visiting parts of Canada. The country’s Public Safety Minister Dominic Leblanc said “Canada is a safe country”, as reported.