India declared on Tuesday that a Canadian diplomat has been given a five-day deadline to exit the country. This decision was announced only a few hours after Canada ousted India’s top intelligence agent amidst accusations of involvement in the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia earlier this year. The Canadian government is presently investigating credible allegations that link agents of the Indian government to the homicide in June.
In response to this action, the Indian foreign ministry summoned Canada’s high commissioner in New Delhi to communicate their decision, highlighting growing concerns over the perceived interference of Canadian diplomats in India’s internal affairs and their engagement in activities against India. Meanwhile, India dismissed Canada’s claims as “absurd and motivated”, encouraging legal action against anti-Indian entities operating in Canada.
Recent Developments and International Concerns
The tension between the two nations escalated significantly after Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent supporter of an independent Khalistani state, was killed outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, a region known for its substantial Sikh community. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, termed any foreign government’s involvement in the death of a Canadian citizen as an “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”, a sentiment echoed by Foreign Minister Melanie Joly. Trudeau urged Indian cooperation in the ongoing investigation during a conversation with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, at the recent G20 summit.
The rising conflict has drawn the attention of other nations, with the US and Australia expressing deep concern and the UK maintaining close communication with Canada regarding the serious allegations. Moreover, this incident has amplified India’s apprehensions about the resurgence of Sikh separatist movements, primarily fueled by small groups residing in nations including Canada, the UK, and the US.
This recent relationship strain has impacted bilateral agreements, causing a pause in discussions over a prospective trade treaty, an initiative that had seen positive advancements just three months ago. Moreover, Modi refrained from engaging in a bilateral meeting with Trudeau at the G20 summit amidst ongoing displeasure over Sikh separatist activities in Canada.