Normalizing relations between Canada and India is a big challenge

Manjit Sing

India and Canada – These two countries have a historical link in their relationship.

India and Canada – These two countries have a historical link in their relationship. India and Canada—Both countries were once British colonies and a link between the two countries was created through the rule of the Queen. In 1858, the Queen announced that the people of India and Canada would have the same rights as the people of Britain.

India got independence in 1947.

Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru quickly improved India’s relationship with Canada. In 1960, Jawaharlal Nehru developed a close relationship with the Prime Minister of Canada. Analyzing from that day till today, it can be seen that India has repeatedly tried to resolve this conflict with Canada. Even the Prime Minister of Canada visited India after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.
There were also controversies, sometimes over Khalistani extremists, sometimes over the Canada Prime Minister’s condolence statement on the issue of the farmers’ movement.
The main reason why the relationship has practically reached rock bottom is Khalistani separatist militant Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Who is Hardeep Singh Nijjar? He lives in Surrey. In 1997, he came to Canada from his village in Jalandhar to work as a plumber.

He got married there. He is the father of two children. Nijjar has always maintained very good relations with Jalandhar village. According to Indian sources, Nijjar is a leader of KTF (Kanri), which India has banned as a Khalistani militant group. In 2023, the notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that he will be given the maximum punishment if found.
Nijjar toured Pakistan in 2013-14. Jaktar Singh met Tara there. These are the killers of Punjab’s former Chief Minister Bian Singh. That murder happened in 1995. They escaped from jail in 2004. The Indian government informed the Canadian government about his meeting with that star in Pakistan. Nijjar was also close to Dal Khalsa leader Gajender Singh. Gajender Singh was associated with the Indian Airlines hijacking in 1981. Even after Nijjar’s murder, Gajender made a statement saying, ‘Nijjar was like my son. And Sacha Khalistani like him has rarely been seen.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) announced that these Khalistani militants had attacked a Hindu procession in Jalandhar in 2021. This nijjar was also involved there. When the farmers movement took place in Delhi in 2020, an FIR was filed against Nijjar. Nijjar engaged in conspiratorial activities to foment that peasant movement—allegations also reported to the Canadian government.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the murder is being investigated by the Canadian Security Agency. Apart from this, there are allegations that India is behind this murder. It is not often seen that a prime minister of a country has made such a statement blaming another country after killing a terrorist in his country. After this incident there was naturally a reaction in India. First, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement created an unprecedented diplomatic conflict with India. The Government of Canada issues specific travel guidelines for Canadian citizens living in or visiting India. Again, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued guidelines for Indian students and citizens living in Canada.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, Indian students and citizens living in Canada are being asked to be extremely careful. In Canada now, targeted anti-India activities have increased tremendously. Therefore, in places where such hateful incidents are taking place, Indians are prohibited from visiting those areas on behalf of Canada. At the same time, the Indian High Commission in Ottawa and the Indian Consulate in Toronto are asked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to register Indian students and Indian citizens compulsorily.

Pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed in Canada last June. But Trudeau’s comments in Parliament that the Indian government may be behind his murder have ignited a fire in the diplomatic community. The Indian government later denied all of Trudeau’s allegations. And the diplomatic tension between the two countries began. Complexity increases. Indians living in Canada are directly threatened.

Canadian citizen and leader of banned pro-Khalistan organization Sikhs for Justice Gurpathwant Singh Pannul was heard saying in a video uploaded on social media, ‘Indian Hindus in Canada have basically lost respect for the government and constitution of this country. So you have no place in this country. You go back to India.’

But why is Trudeau doing this? Actually not today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has been soft on Sikh organizations for a long time. India’s diplomatic desk is not aware of why they are running. This is because Trudeau leads a minority government. He has to take the support of the New Democratic Party to sustain this government. And the leader of this New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, is known to be close to Khalistani leaders. Jagmeet Singh issued a statement strongly condemning India’s role after Trudeau accused India of involvement in the killing of the Khalistani leader.

When the Prime Minister of Canada came to this year’s G20 summit, he wanted to discuss this issue. He informed various countries including USA, Australia that he is active in raising this issue. Even Canada’s National Security Advisor Jody Thomas met with India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He is not only Canada’s national security adviser, but also an intelligence adviser. He visited India twice before the G20 summit last month. In August, he met Ajit Doval. He also came with the Prime Minister of Canada. He repeatedly tried to persuade that a tripartite meeting should take place; Where India, Canada and Khalistani leaders will be. This issue can be resolved through this tripartite meeting.

India is not in any way willing to negotiate with any leader of militant organization. That too through the mediation of an outside country like Canada. As things stand now, the US and Australia have sided with India. They are trying to resolve this conflict with Canada and end the bitterness.

United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada—these five countries together are called the Five Eyes Alliance, which have maintained an intelligence sharing mechanism among themselves. Canada has complained to them against India. But India has completely denied the allegation of killing this militant.

Meanwhile, India also has commercial relations with Canada. There is considerable dependence on Canada. India’s share market, India’s import-export relationship, if the relationship with Canada is closed, it will be a problem for India as well. So the mission of the United States has begun in this situation.

As Foreign Minister, Jaishankar went to the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting. The Foreign Secretary is operating a hotline to resolve the issue from Delhi. All in all, there is no doubt that the situation is complicated and has suddenly become a complication. Bringing Canada-India relations back to a healthy and normal place is a big challenge.

India has repeatedly told Canada not to support terrorists. Think at least once what has happened to Pakistan today while supporting this terrorism. The situation in Canada should not become like that of Pakistan in the future.

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