The night of June 18, Hardeep Singh NijjarCanadian Sikh leader who India considered a terrorist, he was sitting in his truck in a parking lot in front of a gurdwara (Sikh temple) vancouver when two masked men shot him to death. They escaped through a park and disappeared.
18th of September, Justin TrudeauPrime Minister of Canadahe told lawmakers in Ottawa that “credible information” from the country’s security services linked India to the murder. This is a very unusual accusation by the leader of one democracy against the government of another. Trudeau He said he had discussed the accusation with Narendra ModiIndian Prime Minister, on the sidelines of the meeting of the G20 celebrated in Delhi on September 10, and that would pressure India to cooperate in the investigation. “Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”, he declared before Parliament.
The indictment marks a new low in the already cold relations between both countries. Shortly after the statements of Trudeauthe Canadian foreign minister announced the expulsion of the head of the Indian intelligence agency in Canada. But the Indian Foreign Ministry He categorically denied the accusation, calling it “absurd.” and politically motivated, and declared the reciprocal expulsion of a Canadian diplomat. She accused Canada to shelter “Khalistani terrorists and separatists”, in reference to those seeking an independent homeland for the Sikhs in the state of Punjab and other parts of northern India.
In Indiaright-wing media and supporters of Modi echoed the government line, accusing Trudeau to please the terrorists. But they also suggested that the controversy could help the Prime Minister. “Justin Trudeau begins campaigning for Modi ahead of the 2024 general election, blaming his government for neutralizing a terrorist on Canadian soil“, he wrote in x (formerly Twitter) Nupur J Sharmaeditor of OpIndiaa right-wing website.
The deterioration of relations between India and Canada It had been evident for a long time. On September 1, Canada announced that it had interrupted trade talks with India. In the days before G20, Canadaalthough he stuck to his guns, apparently attempted to reduce tensions by discreetly sending India to the head of his intelligence service and to the national security advisor of Trudeau. If so, it was of no use.
In it G20where other Western leaders held long meetings with Modi, Trudeau was cajoled into a ten-minute meeting on the sidelines. a smiling Modi He put a silk scarf around her neck in what was now seems to have been an ironic welcome. (A previous trip of Mr. Trudeau to the India in 2018 became a fiasco after a convicted Sikh extremist was invited to an official reception for him, although the invitation was later withdrawn).
He Sikh separatismthe cause behind a bloody insurgency in the India in the 1970s and 1980s, has long been a sore point between the India and Canadawhich hosts a large diaspora Sikh. India accuses Canada of being soft on separatist militants. Former Canadian security officials say The Indian government has been monitoring Khalistani groups in Canada for years. Own Canada was a victim of Kalistani terrorism in 1985, when a bomb blew up a plane Air India that flew from Montreal to London, killing 329 people, mostly Canadians. It remains the deadliest terrorist attack in history against Canada. Only one suspect was convicted in connection with the attack; another was shot dead, in British Columbialast summer.
However, this crime does not cast a shadow over the relations between 770,000 Canadian Sikhs and their fellow Canadians. All Canadian parties court Sikhs, who constitute an important political constituency. Canada insists that it has taken strong action against the small minority that has taken its fight for Khalistan (or Khalistan) to the country. Nijjar has been a strong defender of a independent Khalistanbut has denied involvement in violent acts.
A growing distance between the two countries would have economic implications, albeit modest. Canadian investors have become more important in Indiaas they seek to benefit from their rapidly growing economy: CPP Investmentsa gigantic Canadian national savings fund, has some $20 billion invested in the subcontinent. India is the tenth trading partner of Canada.
But the ramifications of the accusations of Trudeau They go far beyond the relationship between Canada and India. He stated that Canada was “coordinating closely” this matter with his allies. However, his eagerness to garner the support of Joe BidenAmerican president, and Rishi SunakBritish Prime Minister, in the murder investigation is uncomfortable for both leaders. Joining Trudeau in condemning Modi would hamper his efforts to court India as a way to reduce Chinese influence in Asia..
And yet, not saying anything would mean leaving a close ally in the lurch. On September 18, the White House National Security Council cautiously declared that he was “deeply concerned by the allegations raised today by Prime Minister Trudeau”. The next day, the spokesman for Sunak He also seemed cautious. He said the British prime minister would not comment while investigations were underway and that he would not now take diplomatic action against India. India has also recently expressed concern over support for Sikh separatism in Britain and Australia.which raises fears that justice could be taken into its own hands in those countries as well.
If the accusation of Mr. Trudeau It is true, the murder points towards a activist turn in Indian intelligence operations in the Westwithout forgetting Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the foreign intelligence arm of India, the most likely candidate for such action. Created in 1968 from the National Intelligence Officesupposedly with the help of the INChe RAW has focused primarily on gathering information and conducting operations in Pakistan, China and other neighbors of India. It is suspected that conducts covert operations to influence India’s neighbors and detain and sometimes kill its enemies. But it is difficult to find a precedent for such an apparently open attack in the West. It would be “madness to perpetrate an act like this in a country of the Five Eyes”says a former European intelligence official, referring to the Western espionage pact that connects Canada with USA, Australia, Britain and New Zealand.
Maybe the India hope to emulate Mossad Israeli, whose famous long arm strikes distant enemies. But she runs the risk of being classified with Russia, whose killings abroad have drawn widespread condemnation and Western sanctions. If the accusation is true, RAW may have seen an opportunity to get rid of a troublesome separatist in Canada and send a message to others like him. The price India will pay is unclear..
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