A day after Prime Minister Trudeau accused India of possible involvement in the June assassination of a Canadian Sikh leader, the consequences are imminent. Negotiations on a free trade agreement and cooperation in the field of extraction of special minerals are at a standstill. An important trade mission later this year has also been cancelled.
“If the information we have now is true, it is an attack on Canada’s sovereignty,” Canadian Foreign Minister Joly said. Canada emphasizes that further research needs to be done. The question is whether the accusation that the world’s largest democracy is involved in a murder in another country does not in itself cause much damage.
Behind the scenes
According to the Canadian broadcaster CBC, several attempts were made behind the scenes to obtain India’s cooperation in the investigation into the murder before Trudeau made his accusation. Canadian security services had traveled to Delhi to share their information with Indian counterparts.
Trudeau then discussed the allegations with Prime Minister Modi at the G20 summit. Analysts already spoke of a frosty mood between the two.
International relations professor Leah West is stunned by the accusation. “It’s the first time something like this has happened,” she told CBCNN. “The fact that the Prime Minister announced it in Parliament gives me the impression that they have strong evidence to support this.”
Soon after the murder, the large Sikh community in Canada in particular pointed the finger at India. Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a leading member. Outside India, most Sikhs live in Canada: about 770,000 people.
Besides Buddhism and Hinduism, Sikhism is one of the religions that emerged in India around the 15th century. Much later, around 1947, when India gained independence from the British and Pakistan was formed, a separatist movement emerged among the Sikhs.
For a moment they hoped for their own state, which should be called Khalistan. During the heyday of the Sikh resistance in the 1980s, attacks were committed by Khalistan supporters.
In Indian media, Singh Nijjar is described as someone who continued to fight for an independent Khalistan from Canada. He is said to have had a leading role within the banned Khalistan Tiger Force movement. For that reason, there was a price on his head of more than 10,000 euros.
The Indian government has often expressed its concerns about separatist sentiments in Canada’s Sikh community. Shortly after the murder on June 18, Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar accused Canada of political games.
More than 2 percent of Canadian residents are Sikh. Leader Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party, the party on which Trudeau’s minority cabinet depends, is one of them.
The bottom stone must come out, he tweeted:
Jaishankar reiterated his accusation in response to Trudeau’s allegation. According to him, the Canadian government is trying to divert attention from the fact that Canada is harboring terrorists. These are actually a danger to Indian sovereignty, he argues. “We are a democratic state, with the rule of law of paramount importance.”
After success stories in recent times, with a successful landing on the moon, continued economic growth and a more prominent place on the world stage, India is not looking forward to an affair like this. Actually, the Indians want to dismiss it as an absurd story.
International reactions have been reserved. For the time being, the riot only puts relations between India and Canada on edge.
- Trudeau: India possibly involved in murder of Sikh leader in Canada