In light of what it terms “growing anti-India activities” in the nation, the Indian government is asking its citizens and students residing in Canada to exercise caution.
The travel warning is the most recent manifestation of the escalating hostilities between the two nations in the wake of claims from Ottawa that the Indian government may have been complicit in the murder of a leader of the Sikh separatist movement. The assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent supporter of the independent Sikh country known as Khalistan and a naturalized Canadian, is being looked into by the Canadian government due to “credible allegations” that Indian government agents may be involved. These assertions have been condemned and rejected by India as “baseless” and “absurd,” and the country has accused Canadian politicians of supporting anti-Indian agendas.
Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?
He was designated a terrorist by New Delhi in 2020 on the grounds that he had planned several targeted killings over the years, which Nijjar had refuted. He had reportedly originally immigrated from India in the 1990s and obtained citizenship in March 2015 before settling in a suburb of Vancouver and operating a plumbing company. Nijjar was reportedly working with the group Sikhs For Justice to plan an unofficial referendum among the Sikh diaspora when he was shot and killed on June 18 by two masked gunmen in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, the Sikh temple he presided over in Surrey, British Columbia.
With a violent insurgency based in Punjab state, which has a Sikh majority, the Khalistan movement reached its height in India in the 1980s. Force was used to put an end to it, and while it no longer resonates much in India, some members of the Sikh diaspora in nations like Canada, Australia, and the UK still find it appealing. The majority of Sikhs outside of Punjab reside in Canada, which has also experienced a lot of pro-Khalistan marches and demonstrations. The safety of India’s diplomats in Canada was reportedly the subject of a “formal complaint” made to Canada in June, according to sources.
While Canada sees nonviolent Sikh agitation as an exercise in free speech, India sees Canada’s prolonged tolerance of the movement as an intrusion on its internal affairs.
In order to protect nationals and students, India’s Ministry of External affairs is advising them to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant, by adding in travel advisory the following: “Recent threats have specifically targeted Indian diplomats and groups within the Indian community that oppose the anti-India campaign. Indian people are consequently urged to stay away from areas and prospective locations in Canada where similar events have occurred”.