Canada’s ‘evidence’ & its Five Eyes alliance frame India’s challenge
With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s explosive allegation of a “potential link” between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a pro-Khalistan leader and Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, New Delhi is facing an unprecedented diplomatic challenge.
The Khalistan issue has always plagued bilateral ties, from the 1980s to the last eight years of Trudeau’s term. But this time, Ottawa has ratcheted up the ante and New Delhi is watching the situation keeping in mind the complexity of the bilateral ties and the reputational cost on the global stage.
There are broadly two aspects that will shape the next steps.
The first is the diplomatic fallout on India-Canada bilateral relations already strained but with layers of robust continuity. Click here to know more
Relations between India and Canada, strained due to the latter’s alleged leniency toward supporters of Khalistan, hit a new low on Tuesday (September 19). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed there was evidence to suggest India’s involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, designated as a terrorist by India, in Surrey this June. The Indian government rejected these allegations and accused Canada of providing shelter to Khalistani extremists.
This isn’t the first time these tensions have flared up. In 1998, Ottawa recalled its high commissioner to India following nuclear tests. The rift between the two nations became apparent as early as 1948 when Canada supported a plebiscite in Kashmir.
In recent years
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in power since 2014, and Justin Trudeau, who assumed leadership of Canada a year later, have been at odds over the issue of Khalistani extremism for some time now. After appointing four Sikhs to his 30-member Cabinet in 2015, Trudeau boasted about having more Sikhs in his ministry than Modi. However, buzz about his proximity to individuals sympathetic to Khalistan’s cause strained bilateral relations.
In its response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that investigators in his country were examining a “possible link” between India and the murder of pro-Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, the Indian government accused Canada of sheltering “Khalistani terrorists and extremists”, and said that the “inaction of the Canadian government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern”.
A statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said “Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements”, and that “the space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organised crime is not new”.
What kind of anti-India activities have been seen in Canada?
Over the years, there have been many instances. These are the two most recent ones.