Canadian temple leader's controversial fate

22.09.2023 posted by Admin

Allegations, expulsions, and the Nijjar case

Nijjar, originally from India and a Canadian citizen since 2007, had been a wanted individual in India for an extended period before his tragic death in June, right outside the temple he led in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver.

During a conversation on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, Trudeau acknowledged the intricate diplomatic situation at hand. He emphasized that the decision to present these allegations in the House of Commons was a weighty one. Trudeau stressed the growing significance of India as a nation and the need for continued collaboration while asserting Canada's commitment to the rule of law and safeguarding its citizens.

The revelation of these startling accusations initiated a back-and-forth between the two countries, leading to the expulsion of diplomats from both sides. India dismissed these allegations as baseless.

Canada has yet to publicly substantiate Trudeau's claims, and Canada's U.N. ambassador, Bob Rae, indicated that concrete evidence may not be promptly available. Rae emphasized the importance of allowing facts to emerge as part of the pursuit of justice, underscoring Canada's adherence to the rule of law.

Concurrently, the agency responsible for processing Indian visas in Canada announced a suspension of its services. This move is significant, given that a considerable number of Canadian tourists visit India, with 277,000 Canadian visitors in 2022, as reported by India's Bureau of Immigration.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi attributed the visa suspension, which includes visas issued in third countries, to safety concerns. However, no specific details regarding these alleged threats were provided.

This announcement had an immediate impact in Canada, particularly among individuals with ties to India. One individual, Maitreyi Bhatt, an Indian citizen engaged to a Canadian, was deeply upset as her wedding, scheduled for late October in India, hangs in the balance due to visa uncertainties.

Sukhwinder Dhillon, a grocery store owner in Montreal, had a trip planned to India to address family matters, including his deceased father's estate. Dhillon, who immigrated to Canada in 1998, visits India every few years but now faces uncertainty about his plans.

Bagchi, the Indian foreign ministry spokesman, also called for a reduction in Canada's diplomatic presence in India, pointing out that Canadian diplomats outnumber Indian diplomats in Canada.

The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi stated that its consulates in India continue to operate and serve clients. They acknowledged that some of their diplomats have received threats on social media and expressed expectations for India to provide security for Canadian diplomats and consular officers working in India.

In a separate development, India cautioned its citizens about travel to Canada due to "growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate-crimes."

While India's security and intelligence agencies have a history of involvement in South Asia, the notion of orchestrating the killing of a Canadian citizen in Canada, home to a significant Indian diaspora, is unprecedented.

India has previously criticized Canada for allowing Sikh separatists, including Nijjar, to operate freely within its borders. New Delhi had accused Nijjar of having ties to terrorism, an accusation he denied.

Nijjar played a local leadership role in the remnants of the Khalistan movement, which aimed to establish an independent Sikh homeland. This movement was involved in a violent insurgency in North India during the 1970s and 1980s, ultimately quelled through a government crackdown in which thousands lost their lives.

Despite the end of the active insurgency, the Indian government has expressed concerns about Sikh separatist groups attempting a resurgence and has urged countries like Canada, where Sikhs make up over 2% of the population, to take stronger measures against them.

Tensions related to Sikh separatist groups in Canada have long strained the relationship between the two nations. This friction became evident during the recent Group of 20 (G20) summit hosted by India, where Trudeau had chilly interactions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Subsequently, Canada canceled a planned trade mission to India, putting a pause on a trade deal between the two countries.
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