India suspends Canada visas as row escalates

India suspends Canada visas as row escalates

Amid an escalating dispute surrounding the killing of a Sikh separatist on Canadian soil. India suspend Canada visas to its citizens. It is citing “security threats” that have disrupted its missions in Canada. This tension arose when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that India might involved in the June 18th killing. A claim he later clarified as not intended to provoke India.

India strongly rejected Trudeau’s allegations, deeming them “absurd.” In New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Trudeau emphasized the importance of work with India. While expressing Canada’s commitment to the rule of law and the protection of its citizens.

Relations of two countries, significant trade partners, security allies, and friends of the United States, have been strained for months.

India’s government also extended the suspension of visa services to Canadians in third countries, citing threats against its high commission and consulates in Canada. India seeks parity in rank and diplomatic strength between the two countries’ diplomatic missions due to what it views as Canadian interference in its internal affairs.

Canada, in response, announced a reduction in personnel in India due to diplomats receiving threats on social media, emphasizing the need to ensure their safety.

Meanwhile, Canada continues to offer visa services within India. But India suspend Canada visas. With 1.4 million people of Indian origin, primarily Sikhs, comprising 3.7% of Canada’s population, and a significant number of Indian international students and tourists, the relationship between the two nations holds immense importance.

The dispute emerged when Canada linked India to the murder of separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen killed by two masked gunmen outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia. Prime Minister Trudeau revealed that Canada’s intelligence agencies were investigating the possible involvement of “agents of the government of India” in Nijjar’s killing, an individual designated a terrorist by India in 2020.

India reacted strongly, accusing Canada of attempting to divert attention from Sikh separatists and extremists sheltered in Canada. India has consistently opposed demands by Sikh separatists abroad for Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland.

Trudeau, pressed by journalists, did not provide further evidence linking India to the murder. But stressed the seriousness of the allegations. He called on Indian officials to cooperate with the investigation.

However, the Indian foreign ministry stated that Canada had not shared specific information regarding Nijjar’s murder. He expressed willingness to consider any such information if provided. The Khalistan movement, once a violent insurgency in Punjab state during the 1980s. It has waned in India but remains popular among certain Sikh diaspora in countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK.

Sumann Senguptaa

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