India Warns Citizens to Exercise Caution in Canada Amidst Diplomatic Rift
The diplomatic rift between India and Canada deepens as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accuses New Delhi of orchestrating the murder of a Sikh separatist in Canada. The Indian government warns its citizens to exercise caution while in Canada due to the growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate crimes.
The Canadian government is currently investigating credible allegations that Indian government agents may have been involved in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a naturalized Canadian and advocate for an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan. However, India has firmly rejected these claims as baseless and absurd.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement urging Indian nationals in Canada and those planning to travel to exercise utmost caution. There have been threats targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose anti-India causes, prompting the advisory to avoid traveling to regions and venues that have witnessed such incidents.
This escalating bilateral crisis between Canada and India can potentially impact the strategic partnership between the United States and India. The U.S. aims to form a broader Indo-Pacific alliance with India to reduce reliance on China and restrict Chinese access to strategic technology.
Canada has suspended trade talks with India following Prime Minister Trudeau’s discussion on this issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent G20 summit in Delhi. As a result, both countries have expelled senior diplomats in a reciprocal move.
Trudeau emphasizes that the Canadian government is taking this matter seriously and does not intend to provoke or escalate the situation. However, this travel advisory has sparked public outrage in the Indian media, with even the opposition Congress Party echoing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s stance that India must have an uncompromising fight against terrorism.
The ruling Congress Party had previously dealt with the Sikh insurgency during the 1970s and 1980s, when Sikhs demanded an independent homeland in the state of Punjab. This insurgency led to the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 by Sikh bodyguards.
There are concerns of a potential revival of Sikh separatism, as evidenced by the murder of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar was reportedly leading an unofficial referendum among the Sikh diaspora when he was killed in June 2021.
Canada, with the largest Sikh diaspora outside of Punjab, views Sikh activism as a form of free expression. However, India sees this as an endorsement of Sikh separatism and views it as interference in its domestic affairs.
The travel advisory issued by the Indian foreign ministry specifically highlights the deteriorating security environment in Canada and advises Indian students to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant.