India Expels Canadian Diplomat Amid Rising Tensions
New Delhi: In what is seen as a reciprocal move following recent developments, India has decided to expel a senior Canadian diplomat whose identity has not been disclosed, providing a five-day window for departure from India. This decision comes in the wake of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent accusation implicating India in the June killing of a Khalistani terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Trudeau asserted that his government possesses “credible allegations” linking Nijjar’s killing to individuals associated with the Indian government. This allegation has significantly heightened tensions between the two nations. During an emergency parliamentary session, Trudeau emphasised the unacceptability of any foreign government’s involvement in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil, viewing it as a violation of sovereignty and contrary to the principles upheld by free, open, and democratic societies.
In response to Trudeau’s allegations, India summoned Canadian High Commissioner Cameron MacKay, unequivocally rejecting the claims and expressing deep concern over Canadian political figures openly sympathising with these elements. The Indian government has argued that these unverified allegations divert attention from the presence of Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have found refuge in Canada, posing an ongoing threat to India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Drawing attention to Canada’s history of accommodating various illegal activities, including murders, human trafficking, and organised crime, the Indian government has called on Canada to take swift action against all “anti-India elements” operating within its borders.
Canada, in its response, has chosen to withhold the identity of the expelled Indian diplomat. However, Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie disclosed that the individual held the position of head of India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), in Canada.
At the core of this dispute is Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who led the Khalistani Tiger Force and the Canadian branch of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ). Nijjar was fatally shot near a gurdwara in Surrey in June. Originally from Punjab’s Jalandhar, Nijjar had relocated to Canada in 1997 and was wanted in India for his alleged role as the mastermind behind the activities of the Khalistani Tiger Force, designated as a terror group.
India had previously announced a cash reward for Nijjar’s apprehension in connection with the murder of a Hindu priest in Jalandhar and his alleged involvement in the 2007 cinema bombing in Punjab. Furthermore, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was investigating recent attacks on Indian diplomatic missions in Canada, the UK, and the US.
Canada has emerged as a significant hub for expatriate Sikhs, raising concerns about the proliferation of extremism in recent years. Over the past few months, Canada has witnessed various Khalistani activities, including protests outside the Indian Embassy and the display of threatening posters targeting Indian diplomats.
In light of the escalating diplomatic tensions, Canada has made the decision to postpone a scheduled trade mission to India, originally scheduled for October. This decision comes in the aftermath of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concerns at the G20 summit in Delhi regarding the surge in secessionist activities and attacks on Indian diplomatic missions by Khalistan supporters in Canada.