Canada and India Expel :In a developing diplomatic crisis, India has ordered the expulsion of a senior Canadian diplomat, mirroring Canada’s earlier expulsion of an Indian diplomat. This escalating dispute is centered around the killing of a Sikh separatist earlier this year.
The decision by New Delhi reflects growing concerns over what it sees as interference by Canadian diplomats in India’s internal affairs and their alleged involvement in anti-India activities, as stated by the Indian foreign ministry in a recent announcement.
These reciprocal expulsions come at a time when relations between Canada and India have become increasingly strained. Trade negotiations have been disrupted, and Canada has canceled a planned trade mission to India.
Tensions have been fueled by protests in Canada led by pro-Sikh independence groups, which have drawn the ire of India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
On Monday, Canada announced its active pursuit of credible allegations linking Indian government agents to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar was killed outside a cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18, while allegedly organizing an unofficial referendum in India for an independent Sikh nation.
India responded to these allegations with dismissal, deeming them “absurd and motivated.” India has urged Canada to take legal action against individuals conducting anti-Indian activities from Canadian soil.
The Sikh separatist movement, known as Khalistan, is banned in India, where it is considered a national security threat. However, it still garners some support in northern India and among Sikh diaspora communities in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the issue of Nijjar’s killing with Prime Minister Modi during the recent Group of 20 (G20) Summit, emphasizing that any involvement by the Indian government would be unacceptable. He called for cooperation in the investigation and emphasized the importance of respecting Canadian sovereignty.
India responded with a statement dismissing the allegations and highlighting Trudeau’s similar accusations made to Modi.
Amid this escalating tension, Canada expelled a high-ranking Indian diplomat, whom Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly identified as the head of Indian intelligence in Canada. If the allegations are proven true, Canada sees this as a significant violation of its sovereignty and diplomatic norms.
The Sikh population in Canada exceeds 770,000, making up about 2 percent of the total population.
The situation has prompted various reactions, including Canadian opposition leader Jagmeet Singh expressing disbelief at the potential involvement of a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.
Additionally, British Columbia Premier David Eby has expressed deep concern after receiving a briefing from Canada’s spy agency about Nijjar’s assassination.
‘Nijjar spoke of threat to his life’
The World Sikh Organisation of Canada has described Nijjar as a vocal supporter of Khalistan who led peaceful protests against human rights violations in India and advocated for Khalistan. They claim that Nijjar had publicly expressed concerns about threats to his life and believed he was targeted by Indian intelligence agencies.
This ongoing controversy has cast a spotlight on the complex issue of Sikh separatism, India’s historical challenges with Sikh insurgency, and the international implications of such conflicts.