Canada and India’s Turbulent Relations

Canada and India face a strained international relationship in light of recent allegations.

On September 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that India may have been involved in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar was an Indian-Canadian political activist long claimed by India to be a terrorist.

Nijjar was born in India in the Punjab region and after several failed attempts, he emigrated to Canada in the early 2000s. After moving to Canada, he became head of one of the oldest Sikh temples and took over the Canadian branch of the pro Sikh independence group: Sikhs for Justice.

India has long accused Nijjar of operating and ordering several acts of terror in the Sikh majority, Punjab region of India. In both 2016 and 2018, India told Canada that he was operating a terrorist group active in India, but each time Canada refused to arrest him claiming there was no evidence.

Nijjar was killed on June 18 2023, leaving a Sikh temple. Over 50 bullets were fired at the car with 34 hitting him.

Since the accusation, India has vehemently denied any connection to the death; expelling Canada’s ambassador, ending all Visas for Canadians, and warning its citizens against traveling to Canada amid claims that they couldn’t guarantee their safety.

Canada has ended talks on a new trade deal and has also expelled an Indian diplomat, although Trudeau says that maintaining good relations with India is still important to him.

International reactions have largely fallen on diplomatic closeness; with Pakistan supporting India’s claim, while Sri Lanka stands by India. The United States has not held much of a reaction, attempting to navigate the rift while maintaining alliances with both nations.

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