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Rising Tensions Between India and Canada Following Sikh Leader's Assassination

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

The assassination of Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, earlier this year has increasingly sown discord between India and Canada, marking a notable deterioration in their bilateral relations. A recent exchange resulted in the expulsion of a high-ranking Canadian diplomat from India, this swift retaliatory move came mere hours after Ottawa had a top Indian official removed.

This sequence of tit-for-tat measures highlights the swelling contention over the Nijjar case. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, voiced his concerns regarding credible allegations linking India to Nijjar's assassination in British Columbia earlier this year. India swiftly dismissed these allegations as both "absurd" and "motivated," prompting Canada to redouble its efforts in addressing anti-India movements within its borders.

The root of this conflict directs to the ongoing Khalistan movement, the Sikh independence pursuit, with India accusing Canada of hosting Khalistan activists. Hardeep Singh Nijjar's dedication to this cause, advocating for a Sikh homeland in India's northern state of Punjab, intensified the scrutiny around his case, alleging an unofficial referendum for an independent Sikh nation.

The recent developments between these two countries have seen dialogue on the highest echelons of power. Trudeau asserted unyielding concerns over foreign involvement in a Canadian citizen's demise during his talk with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent G20 summit held in New Delhi.

Despite these allegations that grew louder in the international fora, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs dismissed any complicity in Nijjar's death, emphasizing that harboring Khalistan extremists within Canada threatened India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This diplomatic rift underscores a deeper history echoing from the Khalistan movement and the enduring implications it has on Indian-Canadian relations. It's a narrative that spins from Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh's journey from an émigré to a controversial leader in the Sikh separatist movement. Nijjar's journey illustrates the complexities embedded in the dialogue revolving around Khalistan, opening the platform for further analysis of the Sikh separatist movement’s history and its repercussions on today’s Indian-Canadian relations.

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