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Thursday, September 28, 2023

‘A pretty big blow’: Ottawa implicating India in Canadian’s homicide enflames already strained relations Specific Occasions

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Canada’s suspicion that India’s authorities is linked to the homicide of a distinguished Sikh separatist is simply the newest problem souring relations between the 2 international locations, a lot of which is centred round India’s accusations that Canada has tolerated the expansion right here of a violent Khalistan independence motion.

“(T)he Trudeau authorities stays centered on catering to the grievances of the voters right here — these parts of the Sikh diaspora who’re hostile to India, the group of people that nonetheless have the concept there might be a Khalistan,” mentioned Vivek Dehejia, a professor at Carleton College who focuses on India.

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“That’s a wonderfully acceptable, peacefully expressed view in Canada, however that implies that a traditionally essential Liberal constituency is intrinsically not very eager on (cozying) up with India, given the historical past over the entire Khalistan problem in Canada.”

Simply after the conclusion of query interval on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose within the Home to disclose Canadian intelligence officers have been actively pursuing credible leads linking the Indian authorities to the June 18 homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, president of a Vancouver-area Sikh temple and member of Khalistan advocacy group Sikhs of Justice.

“Final week on the G20, I introduced them personally and on to (Indian) Prime Minister Modi in no unsure phrases,” Trudeau mentioned of the allegations.

“Any involvement of a international authorities within the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It’s opposite to the basic guidelines by which free, open, and democratic societies conduct themselves.”

Nijjar was gunned down within the parking zone of the Surrey, B.C., gurdwara the place he served as president.

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Wished by the Indian authorities as a “fugitive terrorist,” Nijjar was an organizer of a non-binding referendum on Khalistan independence. That referendum was held this month on the gurdwara the place Nijjar had been president, on the identical day Narendra Modi met with Trudeau through the G20 summit in New Delhi.

World Sikh Group President Tejinder Singh Sidhu described Trudeau’s announcement as vindication for many who have lengthy accused India of focusing on Canadian Sikhs.

“The Prime Minister of Canada has publicly mentioned what Sikhs in Canada have recognized for many years — India actively targets Sikhs in Canada,” Sidhu mentioned in an announcement. 

“It ought to now be clear to all Canadians that the Authorities of India is a terrorist state that has overtly engaged in extrajudicial killings not solely by itself soil, but in addition on Canadian soil.”

Khalistan is the Sikh homeland secessionists are preventing to create inside the Indian state of Punjab, and continues to be a perennial irritant in Canadian-Indian relations — significantly India’s implication that Canada tolerates the motion inside its personal borders.

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Khalistan was thrust into the Canadian highlight practically 4 many years in the past after the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182, which blew up after leaving Toronto in a terrorist act that was blamed on a pro-Khalistan group.

Throughout their assembly on the margins of the G20 summit, Modi expressed frustration over rising anti-India sentiments inside Canada — together with a poster produced over the summer time by a Canadian pro-Khalistan group selling a July 8 rally in Toronto that includes “KILL INDIA” in giant letters.

That poster additionally featured photographs of of Indian excessive commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma and Toronto consul normal Apoorva Srivastava, introduced because the “faces of Shaheed Nijjar’s killers in Toronto.”

Relations have been strained additional over the summer time by a Brampton, Ont., parade float glorifying the October 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a Hindu killed by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation for an motion by Indian troops towards militants contained in the Golden Temple, or the Shri Darbar Sahib, Sikhism’s holiest web site.

The float, wrapped in a poster bearing the phrases “By no means Overlook 1984” and “Sikh genocide,” options mannequins of two Sikh males opening fireplace on Gandhi sporting a blood-stained white gown, standing in entrance of an indication studying “Revenge for assault on Shri Darbar Sahib.”

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Trudeau’s announcement on Monday may assist clarify why Canada cancelled a much-anticipated commerce mission to India scheduled for the second week in October.

Whereas in New Delhi for the G20, Trudeau and Modi have been noticeably cool with each other, and Trudeau skipped a gala dinner held by the Indian president, with out the Prime Minister’s Workplace offering an evidence.

Shanti Cosentino, spokesperson for Commerce Minister Mary Ng, confirmed the commerce mission was postponed, however supplied no particulars as to why.

Studies printed over the weekend within the Hindustan Occasions recommend Indian officers have been taken unexpectedly by Canada’s transfer to cancel the journey, saying they solely realized about it through media experiences.

Inquiries to Ng on the deteriorating state of India-Canada relations didn’t obtain a response.

Indian officers, nonetheless, have been extra forthcoming.

In a sit-down interview final week with Indian information outlet Firstpost, India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal blamed “severe considerations” between the 2 nations.

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“Now we have given it a pause to see how we have to take it ahead,” Goyal mentioned.

“We have to ensure that geopolitically and economically, we’re all on the identical web page.” That, he mentioned, gained’t occur till the 2 nations begin seeing eye-to-eye on key points.

Jonathan MIller, senior fellow and director of international affairs on the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, mentioned the Canadian authorities’s accusations will undoubtedly push relations between Canada and India even additional aside.

“If this (allegation) is confirmed, if this incident sticks, I feel this might be a big setback,” he mentioned, explaining that Canada’s accusation goes a lot additional than a mere spat between world leaders.

“I’m not saying the connection won’t ever get well, and even within the medium time period that we gained’t discover methods to get collectively, however I feel this can be a fairly giant blow.”

Regardless of the seriousness of the allegations, Miller cautions towards placing India in the identical international interference class as both Russia or China.

“China is head-over-heels a a lot bigger risk actor for us in numerous methods,” he mentioned.

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Trudeau’s resolution to make his announcement publicly within the Home of Commons represents a extreme lack of face for the Indian authorities that may make it more durable to restore relations, Miller mentioned.

“It’s very difficult,” he mentioned. “If India did this, they’re deserving to be known as out, however they’ve misplaced face in probably the most important manner.”

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