India issues travel advisory for citizens in Canada amid escalating diplomatic tensions

Canada's Sikh Population Draws Attention Amid Diplomatic Expulsions

India has issued a travel advisory for its citizens in Canada, urging them to “exercise utmost caution.” This advisory comes in the wake of escalating tensions between the two nations, marked by the recent expulsion of diplomats from both sides.

Canada’s Allegations and India’s Denial: Canada had raised “credible allegations” linking the Indian state to the killing of a Sikh activist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a claim vehemently denied by India, which labeled the allegations as “absurd.” This development has further strained the already tense relations between the two countries.

Growing Anti-India Activities and Hate Crimes: India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued the advisory due to the “growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada.” The Indian government has been notably sensitive to demands by Sikh separatists in Western countries who advocate for Khalistan.

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Canada’s Sikh Population and Protests: Canada hosts a significant Sikh population, with the highest number of Sikhs outside of Punjab. The country has witnessed several pro-Khalistan protests and demonstrations. In June, reports emerged of India lodging a “formal complaint” with Canada regarding the safety of its diplomats.

Indian Nationals Advised to Avoid Certain Areas:
 In its advisory, India urged its citizens to avoid traveling to regions and venues in Canada that have seen such incidents and threats directed at Indian diplomats and those who oppose the “anti-India agenda.”

Trudeau’s Statement on Investigation: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had stated that intelligence agencies were investigating the potential involvement of “agents of the government of India” in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen designated as a terrorist by India in 2020. Two masked gunmen fatally shot Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia on June 18.

Canada’s Response and Travel Advisory: Prime Minister Trudeau’s assertion of foreign government involvement drew a strong response from India, which accused Canada of attempting to divert attention from Khalistani terrorists and extremists sheltered in the country. There were also reports of a Canadian advisory for its citizens traveling to India.

Canada confirmed that its travel advice for India had been updated on Monday but stated that it was part of pre-scheduled and routine maintenance. The advisory encouraged Canadian citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” in India due to the “risk of terrorist attacks throughout” the country.

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