In the midst of escalating tensions between India and Canada, the latest reports confirm that India has taken the step of suspending visa services in Canada indefinitely. This move underscores the deepening strain in diplomatic relations between the two nations, with roots tracing back to events as far back as 1985.
The origins of this latest dispute can be traced to the tragic incident in 1985 when an Air India aircraft was set ablaze by pro-Khalistan protestors. In recent years, there has been a notable rise in pro-Khalistan sentiments within Canada, with the most recent flare-up occurring following an alleged diplomatic incident involving the Prime Minister of India and his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau.
What initially began as a postponement of trade talks between India and Canada quickly escalated into a heated exchange, with the Canadian Prime Minister accusing Indian diplomats of involvement in the killing of Khalistani Terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. India swiftly rejected these allegations, denouncing them as "absurd" and "motivated."
In response to the deteriorating relations, both countries have taken measures to expel senior officials and have issued travel advisories to their citizens. India's advisory urges its citizens in Canada and those considering travel to exercise "utmost caution" due to growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes in the country.
The issue of Khalistan has been a recurring topic in discussions between Indian diplomats and their Canadian counterparts. Instances of Khalistan supporters vandalizing Hindu Temples and the perceived inaction of the Canadian government towards such activities, which promote anti-India sentiments in the region, have been points of contention in the past.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had initially sought support from the Five Eyes Alliance, a group consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, known for sharing intelligence across various domains, including human, signal, security, geospatial, and defense intelligence. However, none of these member countries have condemned India's actions. Instead, they have expressed concerns over the allegations and called for coordinated efforts between India and Canada in their ongoing investigation.
It is noteworthy that Canada now boasts the largest Sikh population outside of Punjab, India. According to the National Foundation for American Policy, between 2012 and 2022, there has been a staggering 260% increase in permanent residents of Indian origin in Canada.
With India-Canada relations plunging to new lows, the once-friendly narrative of Canada in India faces serious threats, as do the prospects for stability in newly formed global relations. The situation remains fluid, with both nations facing the challenging task of navigating this complex diplomatic quagmire.
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