Indo-Canadian Relations Strain Over Allegations of Sikh Separatist Involvement

Indo-Canadian Relations Strain Over Allegations of Sikh Separatist Involvement
Indo-Canadian Relations Strain Over Allegations of Sikh Separatist Involvement

As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pronounced allegations wherein, he linked the Indian government to the Murder of a Sikh Separatist leader “Hardeep Singh Nijjar” in Canada, has flared up tensions between Indo-Canadian Relations. Hardeep Singh had been quite vocal about the establishment of an independent Sikh homeland called “Khalistan”. Today, we’ll discuss different aspects of the matter, leading up to the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.

A Historical Perspective of the Khalistan Movement

The desire for Khalistan, a Sikh state from India, originates in the time around the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. The movement for an independent Sikh state gained traction during the discussions that led to the division of the Punjab region between the two formed countries i.e. India and Pakistan. British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten divided Punjab into two parts leaving all Sikhs and Muslims migrating from one country to another, which caused severe bloodshed in the region.

Sikhs and Muslims were the most affected communities during the partition of the sub-continent in 1947. It is pertinent to mention that Sikh leaders before British aristocrats consistently voiced demand for an independent Sikh State called “Khalistan”, but weren’t paid heed to, and as a result, Muslims were successful in achieving their independent state but Sikhs were completely left out.

The Sikh faith was established in Punjab at the end of the 15th Century, and currently around 25 million followers worldwide. Moreover, Sikhs make up a percentage of India’s immense population of 1.4 billion accounting for just two percent.

Khalistan’s Resurgence and Conflict

The demand, for Khalistan has resurfaced many times throughout history during a prolonged insurgency in the 1970s and 1980s that greatly affected the state of Punjab in India for over a decade. The Indian government considers “Khalistan” movement to be a security concern.

One of the most important incidents related to this conflict took place in 1984 when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered military action to enter the Golden Temple, regarded as the holiest Sikh shrine to eliminate separatist leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers.

Due to this action, Sikhs all over the world started striving for the movement with renewed passion, leaving the participants rejuvenated.

Tragic Consequences of Conflict

The operation in the Golden Temple violated the sanctity of the Sikh shrine and it caused so much anger in the Sikh community that in a result Prime Minister Gandhi was tragically assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards at her residence, in New Delhi. Not learning from the previous mistake, the Indian army again conducted operations in 1986 and 1988 intending to remove all Sikh militants from the land of the Punjab.

The insurgency had consequences resulting in several casualties and even today Punjab carries the enduring scars of those violent operations against innocent Sikhs of Punjab. In the bombing of Air India Boeing 747 in 1985 near the coast of Ireland, leading up to the loss of all 329 individuals onboard, Sikh militants involved in the Khalistan movement were accused of the atrocity.

Read More: Pakistan Denies Allegations of Arms Sales to Ukraine

Khalistan Today – A Diminished Movement

In today’s India, the Khalistan movement has lost significant support. The Khalistan Movement continues to have small pockets of backing among a few sections of the Sikh diaspora in Canada, an area wherein the largest Sikh population outside Punjab, India. Moreover, Britain, Australia, and the United States also have large Sikh populations.

The arrest of Amritpal Singh, a self-proclaimed preacher and Sikh separatist, has raised concerns in India. He is believed to have been rejuvenating calls for Khalistan, sparking fears of renewed violence in the state of Punjab, India.Indo-Canadian Relations Strain Over Allegations of Sikh Separatist Involvement.

Diplomatic Strain in Indo-Canadian Relations

India is displeased with Canada for various reasons, especially due to a parade depicting the assassination of Indira Gandhi, which was seen as promoting violence by Sikh separatist movement leaders. Before Indian diplomatic missions in Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, Sikh Separatist Movement leaders and their supporters were involved in registering numerous demonstrations and acts of vandalism, leading to increased tensions.

The Indian government has consistently called for improved security measures from the Canadian, Australian, UK, and United States governments. Indian diplomats in Canada fear the slackness of the Canadian government for not improving the security concerns. Indian diplomat’s fear over Ottawa’s failure to address what they refer to as “Sikh extremism” and the ongoing mistreatment of Indian diplomats and officials by Khalistan supporters is of great concern to the Indian government.

Impact on Trade Relations

In response to the excessive demonstrations in Canada, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India approached his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau and showed strong concerns over protests led by Sikh Separatists. After this advancement by Prime Minister Modi, the Canadian government has halted discussion on a proposed trade treaty with India and Trade Minister Mary Ng has postponed an already planned trade mission to the Indian shores.

Recently tensions between India and Canada have been on the rise due to allegations by the Canadian government connecting Indian RAW agents to the killing of a Sikh separatist leader “Hardeep Singh Nijjar” in Canada. Although the conflict between the Separatists and the Indian government is complex, understanding the cited historical context is essential for a better reading of the current situation. After the allegations, the effect on business ties between the two countries demonstrates how vital it is for stakeholders to resolve the instant matter.

Indo-Canadian Relations Strain Over Allegations of Sikh Separatist Involvement.

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