India on Wednesday urged caution among its nationals in Canada and those planning to travel there, as relations deteriorated after each country expelled one of the other’s diplomats in an escalating feud following to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader.
Tensions have increased since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Canada was investigating “credible allegations” about the possible involvement of Indian government agents in the k*****g of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June .
“Given the increase in anti-Indian activities and politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those planning to travel are advised to exercise extreme caution” , declared the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has categorically rejected Canada’s suspicions that New Delhi agents had links to the k*****g.
“Given the deteriorating security environment in Canada, Indian students are particularly advised to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant,” the ministry added in a statement.
India has been the largest source country for international students in Canada since 2018.
That figure rose 47 percent last year to nearly 320,000, or about 40 percent of total international students, says the Canadian Bureau for International Education, which also helps institutions offer subsidized education to national students.
On Wednesday, a private entertainment company, BookMyShow, announced the cancellation of an India tour by Canadian singer Shubhneet Singh.
Canadian officials have so far refused to say why they believe India might be linked to Nijjar’s k*****g.
India’s main opposition Congress party also backed the government’s rejection of the accusations, calling for a stand against threats to the country’s sovereignty.
“Trudeau’s defense of declared terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar is absolutely shameful and shows the extent to which the current Canadian regime is in bed with Khalistani sympathizers,” Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a senior Congress lawmaker, said on the media platform Social X, formerly known as Twitter.
Khalistan is the name of an independent Sikh state whose creation was the goal of a bloody Sikh insurgency in the 1980s and 1990s in the northern Indian state of Punjab, during which tens of thousands people were k**led.
As the ruling party at the time, the Congress led the fight against the separatists and eventually suppressed the insurgency.
But it cost the lives of top Congress leaders, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a*sa*sinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984, and Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, k**led in a bomb blast by militants. Sikh separatists in 1995.
In fashion now
Although there is virtually no support for the insurgency in India, small groups of Sikhs in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States support the separatist demand and occasionally stage demonstrations in front of the emba*sies.
New Delhi, wary of any resumption of insurgency, has long been unhappy with Sikh separatist activities in Canada and has urged it to take action against anti-India elements.
A former head of India’s foreign spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, said it was strange that Trudeau announced the expulsion of an Indian diplomat in Parliament.
“We don’t do these things,” AS Dulat was quoted as saying by the Economic Times newspaper at the Press Trust of India news agency. “We don’t murder people, let me make that very clear. »
Canada has the largest population of Sikhs outside the Indian state of Punjab, with approximately 770,000 people reporting Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.
Some Indian a**lysts say Ottawa is not arresting Sikh protesters because they are a politically influential group.
“Trudeau appears to be engaging in toxic domestic politics by toying with the extremist fringe of the Sikh diaspora,” the Indian Express newspaper said in an editorial, calling for a de-escalation of the conflict.
Both sides said they were freezing lengthy negotiations on a possible trade deal. Canada and India are trying to revive their low levels of bilateral trade, which accounted for just $10.2 billion in 2022, out of Canada’s total of $1.13 trillion.