In a recent development that has escalated tensions between Canada and India, one of Canada’s top diplomats was expelled by India on Tuesday. This move comes in the wake of Canadian accusations that India may have been involved in killing a Sikh activist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in suburban Vancouver, an allegation that India vehemently denies. The diplomatic clash has attracted international attention and raised concerns about foreign government involvement in domestic affairs.
India’s Response to Canadian Accusations: India, which has categorically dismissed the accusations as absurd, explained that the expulsion of the Canadian diplomat was prompted by its “growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” according to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs. This expulsion significantly escalates the ongoing dispute between the two nations.
Trudeau’s Attempt to Ease Diplomatic Tensions: In response to the escalating situation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to calm the diplomatic clash on Tuesday. He stated that Canada is “not looking to provoke or escalate” and emphasized their desire to work with the Indian government to address the matter transparently. Trudeau also stressed the importance of India taking the issue seriously.
The Allegations and Lack of Evidence: Canada has yet to provide concrete evidence to support its claims of Indian involvement, but if proven true, it would mark a significant departure for India. India’s security and intelligence agencies have traditionally played a substantial role in South Asia and have been suspected in various regional incidents. However, orchestrating the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil would be unprecedented.
Ongoing Strain in Canada-India Relations: The recent diplomatic expulsions have exacerbated tensions between Canada and India. Prime Minister Trudeau’s interactions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Group of 20 meeting in New Delhi earlier in the month were notably frosty. Furthermore, Canada canceled a planned trade mission to India for the fall in the aftermath of these developments.
Canada has a significant Sikh population, over 770,000, or about 2%. The allegations raised by the Trudeau government have put the United Kingdom in an awkward position, as it is a close ally of Canada within the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance, including the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The UK is also seeking a free trade deal with India.
While the investigation into the allegations continues, Canada and India are at a diplomatic crossroads, with the international community closely watching the unfolding situation.