India - Canada: Ties Suffer on Pro-Khalistan Activists


India - Canada: Ties Suffer on Pro-Khalistan Activists

India Tuesday, rejected the Canadian allegation that a prominent pro-Khalistan activist was murdered  by agents of India “on the Canadian soil”. And, in a retaliatory move, India has expelled a senior Canadian diplomat.  Canada expelled the station head of the R&AW (Indian external intelligence agency).


Hardeep Singh Nijjar

The Khalistani in question is Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was based in Canada, and was the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). He was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia. In 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had announced a Rs 10 lakh reward on Nijjar after he was accused of conspiring to kill a Hindu priest in Jalandhar.  The NIA had also filed a chargesheet against Nijjar in a case of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts against India.

Nijjar was a proclaimed terrorist who had more than 10 terror cases and an Interpol Red Corner Notice against him for contract killings in Punjab, funding secessionist activities and smuggling of weapons into India. Nijjar was associated with the Babbar Khalsa International and later became the head of the Khalistan Tiger Force; he was being supported by Pakistan’s ISI and helped in recruitment and funding for the Khalistan movement.


Trudeau’s accusations

Trudeau had accused India  of being behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent figure of the Khalistan movement based in British Columbia, terming the June incident an “unacceptable violation”. In a statement to the House of Commons, Trudeau also informed that Canadian security agencies had investigated the June killing over the past several weeks and that he had taken up the matter with PM Modi during his visit to Delhi where he participated in the G20 summit.

Later, Trudeau said the decision to publicly accuse the Indian government was not made ‘lightly’ and that he was not looking to ‘provoke’ India or ‘escalate' tensions, but urged New Delhi to take the killing of a Sikh separatist leader with the 'utmost seriousness’.

Meanwhile, separate media reports said that Trudeau’s allegations were based on surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada and that US President Joe Biden and other world leaders had raised Canada’s concerns surrounding Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing on Canadian soil with PM Modi  at the G20 Summit earlier this month.


Unsubstantiated allegations: MEA

In a tough statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said such allegations as made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau diverted attention from the activities of the Khalistan operatives living in Canada and called for effective action against them.

“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” a MEA statement declared. It further acknowledged that the matter was discussed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trudeau earlier.

“Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected,” the release stated. The official remark expressed concern for the use of Canadian soil by “anti-India elements” and urged Ottawa to “take prompt and effective legal action” targeting them.


India suspends visa serves; advisory to Indians travelling to Canada

India Thursday ‘suspended till further notice’ its visa services in Canada. The decision comes close on the heels of an advisory issued by India for its citizens living in Canada or those planning to travel to that country. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has urged them to exercise ‘utmost caution’ in view of the ‘growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada’. Indian students, in particular, have been advised to remain vigilant, considering ‘the deteriorating security environment’ in Canada.

With Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a designated terrorist and the chief of the banned pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice, brazenly threatening Indo-Canadian Hindus and telling them to go back to India, The Telegraph states Canada  “is certainly not safe for people of Indian origin.”

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