In the wake of escalating tensions between India and Canada following the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Indian government has taken action by issuing an advisory to Indian nationals and students residing in Canada and those with travel plans to the North American nation.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) released a statement today, urging Indian citizens in Canada to exercise utmost caution. The advisory is a response to the perceived rise in anti-India activities, politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence taking place within Canada. The MEA’s statement noted that threats, in particular, have been targeted at Indian diplomats and segments of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda.
“In view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those contemplating travel are urged to exercise utmost caution,” the MEA said in its official statement. It further recommended that Indian nationals avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have experienced such incidents.
This advisory comes just a day after Canada issued a similar caution for its citizens planning to travel to India, urging them to “exercise a high degree of caution.” In its advisory, Canada specifically mentioned avoiding travel to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir due to the unpredictable security situation and the threat of terrorism, militancy, civil unrest and kidnapping. The advisory excluded travel to or within the Union Territory of Ladakh.
Tensions between India and Canada have been on the rise ever since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey back in June. This allegation led to the expulsion of an Indian diplomat from Canada. India swiftly rejected these claims as “absurd” and “motivated” and responded by expelling a Canadian diplomat, asking them to leave the country within five days.
In a statement issued by the MEA, India firmly stated, “Allegations of the Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated.”
On September 19, Prime Minister Trudeau clarified his stance, expressing that he was not attempting to provoke or escalate tensions with India but rather seeking that New Delhi takes the murder of the Sikh separatist leader with the “utmost seriousness.”
Trudeau remarked, “The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that; we are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them, and we want to work with the government of India. It is extremely serious and has far-reaching consequences in international law. We’re going to remain calm, grounded in our democratic principles and values, and follow the evidence to ensure the work is done to hold people accountable.”
As tensions continue to simmer between the two nations, diplomatic efforts are expected to play a pivotal role in defusing the situation and restoring normalcy in their bilateral relations.