New Delhi: The diplomatic spat between India and Canada (India-Canada Tension) has escalated after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Indian agents of being behind the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada and expelled a senior Indian diplomat. India retaliated by expelling a top Canadian official from the country.
In the midst of this, the Canadian government issued a new travel advisory for its citizens on Tuesday night, warning them to avoid traveling to Jammu and Kashmir due to the security situation there. The advisory said there is a risk of terrorism and kidnapping in the region, which has been under lockdown since August 2019 when India revoked its special status. The advisory also cautioned Canadians against visiting Assam and Manipur, two northeastern states that have witnessed insurgencies and ethnic violence.
On the other hand, Canada’s largest newspaper ‘Toronto Star’ quoted Trudeau as saying that his government does not want to increase tensions with India, but expects India to take these issues more seriously. He said he had raised the matter of the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh community leader and a vocal supporter of an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit in New Delhi last week. He said he told Modi that any foreign government involvement in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil was “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty” and that he asked for cooperation in the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Canadian opposition has distanced itself from Trudeau’s stance on the issue and demanded more clarity and evidence from him. Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre said on social media that Trudeau should speak clearly and directly. “If he has evidence, he should present it to the public. Only then can people decide who is right and who is wrong. But the surprising thing is that Trudeau is not presenting any facts. He is only making statements to satisfy his needs, anyone else can do that too.”
India and its central government have completely rejected all the allegations made by Canada. The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement – “We have seen and rejected the statement of the Canadian prime minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their foreign minister. Allegations of the Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated.” It said that such baseless allegations were an attempt to divert attention from “Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have been provided shelter in Canada” and who “continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Nijjar was one of them, as he was designated a terrorist by India and accused of plotting the murder of a Hindu priest in Punjab.