Canada- India relations

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.



Contents

Relations, in brief

Ministry of External Affairs

India-Canada share a strategic partnership underpinned by shared values of democracy and pluralism. These have expanded significantly in recent years aided by heightened economic engagement, regular high level interactions and long-standing people-to-people ties.

Nuclear energy

Ministry of External Affairs

The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), which was signed in June 2010, came into force in September 2013.The Appropriate Arrangement (AA) for the NCA was signed in March 2013, under which a Joint Committee on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was constituted. It held its first meeting in Mumbai on 29 November, 2013. The 2nd meeting was held in Ottawa in November 2014. On 15thApril 2015, the Department of Atomic Energy signed a $350 million contract with Cameco, a Saskatoon-based company, to purchase 7 million pounds of uranium concentrate over the next 5 years. The first shipment arrived in India in December 2015.

Science & Technology and space

Ministry of External Affairs

India and Canada have been cooperating since 1990s in the areas of space science, earth observation, satellite launch services and ground support for space missions.ISRO and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) have signed MOUs for cooperation in the field of exploration and utilization of outer space and two Implementation Arrangements specifically addressing satellite tracking and space astronomy.ANTRIX, the Commercial arm of ISRO, has launched nine nanosatellite under a commercial arrangement with University of Toronto - Institute of Aerospace Studies (UTIAS).ANTRIX also launched a microsatellite SAPPHIRE (commercial contract with MacDonald, Dettwiler& Associates (MDA), Canada and NEOSSat (contract with Microsat Systems, Canada) as auxiliary satellites on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C20) in February 2013.The PSLV-C23, which was launched in June 2014 carried two Canadian satellites, CanX-4 and CanX-5, from the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies Space Flight Laboratory.

Diaspora

Ministry of External Affairs

Indian Diaspora

The Diaspora is well represented in federal Parliament and provincial legislatures. In the present House of Commons (elections held on 19 October 2015), there are 21 MPs of Indian origin (up from 9). Four PIOs now hold Cabinet berths (up from two of Ministers of State in the last Cabinet).Prominent Indo-Canadian organisations include Canada India Business Council (CIBC), Canada India Foundation (CIF), Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (I-CCC) and other local chambers and associations.

Khalistan

See Khalistan, Khalistani violence

The Khalistan movement in Canada: 1980- 2022

Arjun Sengupta, Sep 21, 2023: The Indian Express

What kind of anti-India activities have been seen in Canada?

Over the years, there have been many instances. These are the two most recent ones.

  • The most recent one took place on June 4, when a parade was organised in Brampton, Ontario, ahead of the 39th anniversary of Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

A tableau in the 5 km-long parade seemed to celebrate the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi — a female figure was shown in a blood-stained white saree, with the hands up, as turbaned men pointed guns at her. A poster behind the scene read “Revenge for the attack on Darbar Sahib”.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar registered his strong disapproval. “…We are at a loss to understand other than the requirements of vote bank politics why anybody would do this… I think there is a larger underlying issue about the space which is given to separatists, to extremists, to people who advocate violence,” he said.

  • Brampton is home to Canada’s largest Sikh population. Last year, a pro-Khalistan organisation known as Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) held a so-called “referendum” on Khalistan here. The organisers claimed that more than 100,000 people had turned up in support of Khalistan.

The Government of India issued a strong rebuke, urging Canada to curtail any “anti-India activities”. It asked the Canadian government to designate as terrorists all those individuals who were so designated in India. SFJ is an outlawed organisation in India, and has been linked to the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack at Punjab Intelligence headquarters in Mohali in May 2022.

Have there been similar instances earlier too?

Yes. Back in 2002, Toronto-based Punjabi-language weekly Sanjh Savera greeted Indira’s death anniversary with a cover illustration of her murder and a headline urging readers to ‘Honour the martyrs who killed the sinner’.

The magazine received government advertisements and is now a prominent daily in Canada.

In fact, Canada has been considered a safe haven for Khalistan supporters and militant voices accused of terrorism in India for even longer.

“The meek Canadian response to the Khalistani challenge was a frequent target of Indian politicians as far back as 1982, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi complained about it to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau,” Terry Milewski wrote in his book Blood for Blood: Fifty Years of the Global Khalistan Project (2021).

Pierre Trudeau, who was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1979 and then from 1980 to 1984, was the father of Canada’s current leader, Justin Trudeau.


But why does Canada do this?

Milewski answered this question in his book. It is broadly the same as Jaishankar’s reference to “vote bank politics” in Canada.

“It is a question often asked by Indians: why do Canadian politicians pander to Sikh extremists?” Milewski wrote. “The short answer is that it is not easy to look out at a throng of 100,000 on Vaisakhi Day [in Canada], knowing they might vote for you if you keep your mouth shut, and then to open it instead and risk losing the votes.”

As per the 2021 Canadian census, Sikhs account for 2.1 per cent of Canada’s population, and are the country’s fastest-growing religious group. After India, Canada is home to the largest population of Sikhs in the world.

Today, Sikhs lawmakers and officials serve at all levels of Canada’s government, and their burgeoning population is one of the most important political constituencies in the country. In 2017, Jagmeet Singh, 39, became the first Sikh leader of a major Canadian political party when he took the reins of the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP).

Isn’t the Khalistan movement all but over in India?

Yes. But even as the movement finds little resonance in the Sikh population within India, it survives in parts of the Sikh diaspora in countries like Canada, the US, and the UK.

In fact, the Khalistan movement had been a global movement from its inception. The first declaration for a separate Sikh state was made in the United States, in a publication no less significant than The New York Times.

On October 12, 1971, an advertisement in The New York Times proclaimed the birth of Khalistan. “Today we are launching the final crusade till victory is achieved … We are a nation in our own right”, it said.

Of course, at the height of the insurgency in Punjab, Pakistan and China were frequently involved in providing material support to Khalistani militants. The Indian Army found the militants holed up in the Golden Temple to be in possession of Chinese-made RPGs, and cited the use of these RPGs as the reason for the use of tanks in the operation.

So why is the Khalistan movement continuing in Canada?

It is important to note here that not all Canadian Sikhs are Khalistan supporters, and for most in the Sikh diaspora, Khalistan is not a “hot” issue.

“Canadian leaders do not want to lose Sikh votes but they wrongly think the loud minority of Khalistanis are all Sikhs of Canada,” Milewski told DW last year.

Milewski located the support for Khalistan within the diaspora in its lack of connection to the ground realities of Punjab.

The diaspora comprises people “who chose to leave”, including those who left during the 1980s, when the movement was at its peak and the Indian state was extremely hard on Khalistani separatists, with a lot of extra-judicial arrests and killings. The memories of those times have kept the movement alive among these people, even though the ground realities of Punjab are very different today.

However, even within the diaspora, support has dwindled over the years. “There is a small minority that is clinging to the past, and that small minority remains significant not because of popular support, but rather because they are trying to keep up their political influence with various political parties both from the left and the right. They can rally supporters en masse who will vote for the politicians who can sing their song,” Milewski told The Indian Express in 2021.

As a new generation of Sikhs grows up in foreign shores with little personal memory of India, the movement is likely to further dwindle.

Milewski said, “(Today) The Khalistan movement is not about popular support … it is about geo-politics. Countries like China and Pakistan can well tolerate, subsidise and assist in various ways the Khalistan movement on the basis that it is making trouble for their enemies in India.”

1980s: Pierre Trudeau shielded terrorist

Rajshekhar jha, Sep 22, 2023: The Times of India

New Delhi : Hardeep Singh Nijjar is not the first extremist for whom the Canadan government has stood up for.


Intelligence officials have recalled how Talwinder Singh Parmar, the mastermind of the bombing of Air India plane Kanishka which killed over 300 people, was “protected” by the government headed by Pierre Trudeau, father of the incumbent, Justin.


Parmar — one of the co-founders of terrorist outfit Babbar Khalsa International — had fled to Canada after killing two police officers in Punjab in 1981 but his extradition was refused though India was a member of the Commonwealth, with the government of Trudeau Sr. using India’s decision not to recognise the British Queen as the sovereign as the alibi. “Since India did not recognise the Queen as Head of State, Trudeau had at the time claimed that the Commonwealth extradition protocol did not apply to the case,” a former intelligence official said.


In July 1984, Parmar had called for the killing of Hindus and blowing up Indian embassies globally — in what would turn out to be a chilling precursor to Sikhs for Justice chief Gurpatwant Singh Pannun’s hate-filled rants against In dia’s diplomats and members of the Hindu community. And Parmar did follow through his bellicose statement since Indian diplomats and missions in Canada were attacked around this time as well. A hardened terrorist, Parmar later returned to India and was killed in a gunfight with cops in 1992. However, he remained a beneficiary of the Canadian indulgence posthomously, with authorities in Ottawa not coming in the way of his consecreation as a martyr for the Khalistanis — something which intelligence officials said was being attempted in Nijjar’s case too. Just two days before Nijjar was gunned down, posters of a pro-Khalistan rally, honouring Parmar, were seen in Canada.


Intelligence officials see the remarks by serving Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in connection with Nijjar’s kill ing by his rivals as a re-enactment of the script played during his father’s stint. They recalled how he, while visiting India in 2017, had invited Jaspal Atwal, who was convicted for attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986, to a dinner he hosted. It took a mighty furore for Trudeau to “disinvite” Atwal.


“There are many like Parmar and Nijjar who have found safe haven and protection in Canada. The Canadian government’s eerie silence, and inaction, in the case of Karima Baloch who was killed in 2020 is another glaring example,” a retired senior intelligence official said.

2018: CM Amarinder refused to let PM Trudeau plane land unless he agreed to a meet

IP Singh, May 8, 2024: The Times of India


Jalandhar: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and his defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan were not allowed to land in Amritsar in Feb 2018 until they had agreed to meet the then Punjab CM, Capt Amarinder Singh, according to a report in Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper.

The newspaper’s report comes within days of the arrest of three Punjabi youths in connection with the murder of pro-Khalistan separatist and chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) Hardeep Singh Nijjar (45), designated a terrorist by India. Diplomatic ties between Canada and India are already in rough weather over allegations of the involvement of Indian agents in the murder.


Amarinder had handed over a list of nine “A-category” Canada-based terror operatives, including Indian-origin members of KTF, International Sikh Youth Federation and Babbar Khalsa International members, to Trudeau

on Feb 21, 2018 in Amritsar. He had informed Trudeau that Canadian soil was being misused by pro-Khalistan activists for financing terror activities in India. Except in one or two cases, Amarinder had told him that the Canadian govt had failed to take any action against those nine people, including Nijjar.


“The discussion with Capt Singh was ‘not pleasant’,” Globe and Mail report quoted a source as saying, adding that Canadian govt officials had assured the Indians they would look at the list presented to Sajjan, one that had previously been shared with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

A backgrounder/ 2023 Sept

Manraj Grewal Sharma, Sep 21, 2023: The Indian Express

Relations between India and Canada, strained due to the latter’s alleged leniency toward supporters of Khalistan, hit a new low on Tuesday (September 19). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed there was evidence to suggest India’s involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, designated as a terrorist by India, in Surrey this June. The Indian government rejected these allegations and accused Canada of providing shelter to Khalistani extremists.

This isn’t the first time these tensions have flared up. In 1998, Ottawa recalled its high commissioner to India following nuclear tests. The rift between the two nations became apparent as early as 1948 when Canada supported a plebiscite in Kashmir.

In recent years

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in power since 2014, and Justin Trudeau, who assumed leadership of Canada a year later, have been at odds over the issue of Khalistani extremism for some time now. After appointing four Sikhs to his 30-member Cabinet in 2015, Trudeau boasted about having more Sikhs in his ministry than Modi. However, buzz about his proximity to individuals sympathetic to Khalistan’s cause strained bilateral relations.

In 2017, then Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh refused to meet Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, accusing him of associating with separatists. A year later, Trudeau got a cool reception during his visit to India when he was received at the airport by Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat instead of PM Modi. India was further aggravated when Jaspal Atwal, convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian Cabinet minister in 1986, was invited to dine with Trudeau, even though the invitation was later rescinded. Trudeau had jokingly called it “the trip to end all trips.”

There seemed to be a thaw in relations when the Canadian government released its annual ‘Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada’ in December 2018, mentioning ‘Sikh extremism’ and Khalistan for the first time. The report noted that Canada faced threats from individuals inspired by various forms of extremism, including Sikh (Khalistani) extremists, though the attacks by Khalistanis in Canada were limited. In 2018, Canada and India also set up a framework for co-operating on anti-terrorism activities.

However, a year later, Canada revised the report just a day before Vaisakhi, removing all mentions of Khalistan and Sikh extremism. This omission was criticised by then Punjab CM Amarinder, who had previously provided Trudeau with a list of extremists in Canada, including Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The Canadian government asserts that it has been working to improve its relations with India through trade and commerce. However, it faces challenges due to India’s singular focus on Khalistan. Canadian officials argue that the separatist movement is relatively insignificant, and the referendums on Khalistan organised by the banned Sikhs for Justice are within the bounds of the law. Some also point to the failed referendum in Quebec in 1995, which was allowed even though the province was voting to determine if it should declare independence from Canada. Nevertheless, tensions have escalated since these referendums commenced in November last year.

In 2020, India accused Trudeau of inciting extremists when he expressed concerns about New Delhi’s response to the farmers’ protest, pledging support for their rights.

In March 2022, Trudeau’s Liberal Party formed an alliance with the New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Jagmeet Singh, who openly endorsed the Khalistan Referendum on Canadian soil, framing it as a “fundamental human right of Canadian Sikhs protected by local and international laws.”

During militancy in India


Canada’s connection to the Khalistan cause isn’t new. Long-time residents recall Surjan Singh Gill, born in Singapore and raised in India and England, establishing the ‘Khalistan government in exile’ office in Vancouver on January 26, 1982, even issuing blue Khalistani passports and colorful currency. However, he garnered limited support among local Sikhs, with some of his activists displaying Khalistan posters being beaten up during the Vaisakhi procession in April.

The militancy that emerged in Punjab in the early 1980s had repercussions in Canada as well. In 1982, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Justin Trudeau’s father) declined to extradite Talwinder Singh Parmar, accused of killing two police officers in Punjab. Canadian journalist Terry Milewski documented this in his book ‘Blood For Blood,’ noting that the Canadian response to the Khalistani challenge was criticised by Indian politicians, including Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1982.

The aftermath of Operation Bluestar, launched by the Indian army to root out militants from the Golden Temple in June 1984, and the ensuing damage to the Akal Takht, the holiest Sikh temporal seat, bolstered this movement among the diaspora. Subsequently, the International Sikh Youth Federation [ISYF] and the Babbar Khalsa emerged in Britain, while the World Sikh Organisation originated in Canada and the US. ISYF, banned in Canada in 2003, openly advocated for an independent Sikh state free from ‘Hindu imperialism.’

Canada suffered its most horrific acts of terrorism when the Babbar Khalsa orchestrated the bombing of Air India Kanishka in June 1985, resulting in 331 civilian deaths, including 80 children. Investigations revealed that Talwinder Singh Parmar, who headed the Babbar Khalsa in Punjab, had masterminded the bombing.

Recently, the Surrey school board withdrew permission for holding a referendum on one of their school campuses because the organisers plastered the venue with posters of Parmar.

With changing govts

The Khalistan movement in Canada has seen many ups and downs over the years, often mirroring the changing politics of India and the subcontinent.

It seemed to wane after the Vajpayee government came to power, with Bhisham Agnihotri, then ambassador at large, engaging with prominent Khalistanis, hinting at reconciliation. During the tenure of Conservative Party’s Stephen Harper as Canadian PM from 2006 to 2015, Canada and India enjoyed strong relations, marked by 19 high-level visits from Canada to India and the joint celebration of 2011 as the Year of India in Canada. Modi also visited Canada in 2015, signing numerous memorandums of understanding.

Amardeep Singh, counsel for passport, visa, and community affairs in Vancouver in 2014, stated that initially, the Modi government also made efforts towards reconciliation. “At least 400 people in my jurisdiction in western Canada were removed from the blacklist. I met with many radicals, and there were hardly any protests outside the consulate during those days.”

With over 7.7 lakh Sikhs, constituting approximately 2 per cent of Canada’s total population, the Sikh community holds significant political influence in Canada, boasting 18 Sikh MPs in the Canadian parliament in 2019, surpassing the 13 Sikh MPs in India.

The ongoing tensions between the two nations and the Khalistan movement have had another consequence: a 2018 report by the intelligence and analysis division of the Canada Border Services Agency revealed a 246 per cent increase in asylum claims by Indian nationals, primarily Punjabis. Experts suggest this may be another tactic employed by immigration agents.

Meanwhile, a research paper titled ‘The Khalistan Movement and Its Impact in Canada’, published by the University of Alberta earlier this year, indicates that interest in the Khalistan movement in Canada has waned, and the issue is less prominent than before. Those who still fervently support the movement are often second-generation Canadians who have not lived or spent substantial time in the Punjab region. Their beliefs regarding Khalistan are based on hearsay and a simplified narrative shaped by pro-Khalistani social media and music.

2023/ Canadian government accuses India of killing Nijjar

achin Parashar & Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, Sep 20, 2023: The Times of India

The killing of Nijjar and subsequent developments, June September 2023
From: achin Parashar & Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, Sep 20, 2023: The Times of India


Canada announced that it had expelled a top Indian diplomat over the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar, shortly after PM Justin Trudeau said in the nation’s Parliament that his government was probing “credible allegations” that Indian agents were responsible for the killing in June 2023.


Hours later, the Indian government ordered a senior Canadian diplomat to leave the country within five days, saying the decision reflected growing concern over interference by Canadian diplomats in India’s affairs and their antiIndia activities. India summoned Canada’s high commissio ner Cameron MacKay to convey its decision to expel the diplomat, identified as Olivier Sylvestere, who headed Canadian intelligence. 
India said Trudeau’s unsubstantiated and absurd allegations were only meant to shift focus from Canada’s support to Khalistan terrorists. The expelled Indian official was identified as Pavan Kumar Rai, a 1997-batch IPS officer handling, as per Indian high commission, economic, coordination and community affairs. Canada’s foreign minister Melanie Joly said he was RAW’s point person.


Having dropped a bombshell a day earlier by alleging an Indian government hand in Nijjar’s killing, Trudeau said Ottawa was not looking to escalate matters even as the US cautiously backed his demand for a probe. “We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them,” Trudeau said, adding, “Indian government needs to take this matter with utmost seriousness. We are doing that.”

Punjab- related issues

2020: PM Trudeau’s concern over Indian farmers’ agitation

December 4, 2020: The Times of India


India warns Canada: Comments on farmers protest will have 'seriously damaging' impact on ties NEW DELHI: India on Friday issued a strong warning to Canada over the remarks made by some of its leaders including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the ongoing farmers protest in the country.

The government summoned the Canadian high commissioner and told him that the comments made by Canadian leaders constituted an "unacceptable interference" in the country's internal affairs. The Canadian diplomat was warned that such actions, if continued, would have a "seriously damaging" impact on the bilateral ties.


Trudeau had expressed concern over the farmers agitation in India and had said that Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protests.

"The Canadian High Commissioner was summoned to the ministry of external affairs today and informed that comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some Cabinet Ministers and members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs," the MEA said, adding a demarche was made to the envoy.


The MEA said these comments by the Canadian leaders have encouraged "gatherings of extremist activities" in front of the Indian high commission and consulates in Canada, raising issues of safety and security.

"We expect the Canadian government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimize extremist activism," the MEA said.

Earlier this week, the government had called the statements made by the Canadian leaders "ill-informed" and "unwarranted".

In a terse message, the government asked the Canadian leaders to refrain from commenting on India's internal affairs and maintain the sanctity of diplomatic conversations.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting for last nine days at the borders of Delhi against three farm laws.

The government is in talks with the protesting farmers to end the deadlock.

Canada's Indian-origin defence minister Harjit Sajjan too had expressed concerns over reports of the "peaceful protesters being brutalised in India".

"The reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized in India are very troubling. Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right," he tweeted.

Prime Ministerial visits

2018, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's visit to India

Some Canadians feel India snubbed Trudeau

Shailaja Neelakantan, February 19, 2018: The Times of India

Is the Centre snubbing Justin Trudeau on his India visit? Some Canadians believe so


HIGHLIGHTS

PM Narendra Modi did not go to the airport to receive the Canadian head of state

UP CM Adityanath did not accompany the Trudeaus on their visit to the Taj Mahal

Trudeau is today scheduled to visit Gujarat, and his itinerary includes a trip to the Sabarmati Ashram

The event of the visit has barely created a ripple, and many Canadians think that's because New Delhi is very openly snubbing him over his perceived support for Sikh separatists in his country.

For one, PM Narendra Modi did not go to the airport to receive the Canadian head of state. Candice Malcolm, a columnist for the Canadian publication Toronto Sun, pointed out the stark contrast between how other heads of state have been received in India versus how Trudeau has not.

As if that wasn't bad enough, whom did the Centre send to the airport to receive Trudeau? Junior agriculture minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who is, as one Canadian put it, like a (mere) "parliamentary secretary in Canada".

Then, Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and their three children visited the Taj Mahal yesterday while Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath was nowhere in sight. A scant month ago, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Taj, the UP CM personally showed him around. But all the Trudeaus got were the Agra district magistrate and some other local administrators.

Many say that the Centre's absence of pomp and ceremony is an indication of its displeasure with Trudeau for appointing Cabinet ministers with links allegedly to the Sikh separatist movement.

Trudeau has four Sikh cabinet ministers - Harjit Sajjan, Amarjeet Sohi, Navdeep Bains and Bardish Chagger. Sohi said earlier this month that he's neither sympathetic to nor against the Khalistan movement.

"If there is a small segment of people in Canada who talk about separation, who talk about the creation of Khalistan if they do that in a peaceful way that is their right to do so but this is not an issue that I hear in the community," said Sohi.

Canadian columnist Malcolm did not take kindly to this statement. She wondered whether newcomers to Canada were "entitled" to support foreign extremist organizations.

Malcolm believes Trudeau must denounce Khalistani extremists publicly, while in India, and should apologize to Amarinder. Another Canadian opposition leader, Jagmeet Singh, must also "denounce Khalistani radicals", she added.

Amarinder has said he has no problem meeting with Trudeau, but added they won't meet with some ministers in his cabinet because they "have negative views regarding Punjab". It's still not certain whether an Amarinder-Trudeau meet is on the cards when the Trudeaus visit Amritsar's Golden Temple.

Until then, it appears Trudeau will be met with "about the same enthusiasm as (a) malarian mosquito", as a Canadian policy advisor described the low-profile reception Trudeau has got thus far.

Trudeau is today scheduled to visit Gujarat, and his itinerary includes trips to the Sabarmati Ashram, the Akshardham Temple and IIM Ahmedabad.

Maybe. Maybe not

Sachin Parashar, Govt denies it has snubbed Trudeau over Khalistanis, February 20, 2018: The Times of India


Punjab CM Will Meet Canada PM

The issue of Canadian government’s apparent ambivalence on how to deal with Sikh extremists continued to cloud PM Justin Trudeau’s ongoing visit to India, even as Punjab CM Amarinder Singh confirmed that he was going to meet the visiting leader in Amritsar.

The 7-day visit seemed to be making news for all the wrong reasons with the Indian side at pains to deny that PM Narendra Modi not receiving Trudeau at the airport, or not accompanying him to Ahmedabad, was a snub to the visiting leader.

Trudeau and his defence minister Harjit Sajjan, sources here said, finally proposed a meeting with Singh in what is being seen as an attempt to address the strong perception in India that Trudeau’s Liberal government has failed to rein in pro-Khalistan elements active in Canada. Reports from Canada had earlier said that no such meeting had been sought by the Canadian authorities.

While Canadian diplomatic sources chose to not comment on the issue, Singh himself tweeted on Monday evening that he was looking forward to meeting Trudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday.

Official sources here confirmed Canada was initially reluctant to have Trudeau meet Singh because the latter had last year refused to meet Sajjan calling him a Khalistani sympathiser. While Trudeau is likely to reiterate Canada’s position that it fully supports a unified India, India wants Trudeau to also ensure that his Sikh ministers are not seen as endorsing in any way the Khalistan movement.

Another diplomatic headache for India was the perception that Canada, an important supplier of uranium to India which has also backed India’s NSG membership bid to the hilt, was being ignored by the Indian establishment. Trudeau detractors in Canada were quick to claim that Modi had snubbed him by not receiving him at the airport and also by not accompanying him to Ahmedabad, the city Trudeau visited with his family on Monday before flying to Mumbai.

Official sources here said Trudeau had been received by a minister of state in keeping with the protocol. “Really don’t understand the point here as the PM didn’t even receive Chinese President Xi Jinping at the airport,’’ the sources said, adding that going to airport was a departure from protocol and a special gesture shown by the PM for a select few. Modi has so far received former US President Barack Obama, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the airport.

While Trudeau landed in Delhi, he chose to visit Taj Mahal the next day before flying to Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Trudeau will visit Amritsar on Wednesday before arriving in Delhi for an official reception and meeting with Modi on Friday. Sources here termed the itinerary weird saying that the Indian side had repeatedly suggested that Trudeau first have his official engagements in Delhi before travelling to other cities. Trudeau and his officials chose on their own to visit Ahmedabad and at no stage had Modi committed himself to accompanying the Trudeau family to Ahmedabad. Reports in Canadian media highlighted how Modi had earlier accompanied Xi and also Abe and Netanyahu to Ahmedabad.

The issue of Khalistan- advocate Atwal

Shailaja Neelakantan, On India trip, Khalistan keeps returning to haunt Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, February 22, 2018: The Times of India

Former Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal photographed with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife at Mumbai event in February 2018. (ANI photo)
From: February 22, 2018: India Today


HIGHLIGHTS

Trudeau landed in the midst of another controversy today over an invite to a convicted Khalistani terrorist for dinner at the Canadian High Commission

The high commission quickly rescinded the invite but the damage was done


Things appear to be going from bad to worse for Justin Trudeau on his maiden trip to India as Canada's Prime Minister.

He had barely dug himself out of a hole on the issue of supporting Khalistani separatists by proclaiming he was in favour of a united India, and by meeting with Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, when he landed in the midst of another controversy today over an invite to a convicted Khalistani terrorist for a dinner+ at the Canadian High Commissioner's in Delhi.

The Canadian Prime Minister's Office (PMO) quickly cancelled that invite to the terrorist Jaspal Atwal. But the damage had been done, because not only was there the issue of the invite, turns out Atwal had also been photographed with Trudeau's wife Sophie at an event in Mumbai earlier this week.

Atwal, a member of the now-banned International Sikh Youth Federation, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trying to kill the then Punjab cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu on Vancouver Island in 1986. Atwal later even confessed he was the shooter. (If he began his jail sentence in 1986, and if he served the full term, Atwal would have been released in 2006.)

"This person (Atwal) of course should not have been invited. The invitation has now been rescinded. We are looking into how it happened," said Kirsty Duncan, Canadian Minister for Science & Sports, reported ANI. The Canadian PMO was also at pains to clarify that Atwal wasn't part of the official Canadian delegation and was in India in his private capacity.

"… it's important to be clear that he is not part of official delegation to PM's visit to India, nor was he invited by the PMO. As is the case with international trips, individuals sometimes travel on their own to the location of the visit," said the Canadian PMO.

Trudeau's office didn't comment on the curious coincidence of Atwal timing his private trip to India with that of the state visit by the Canadian Prime Minister.

On his part, an aggrieved sounding Atwal told a Canadian media outlet that he didn't plan to attend the dinner in Delhi anyway as he was in Mumbai on business. He told Canadian news outlet Postmedia Network that he was in India for an online radio station based in Surrey in British Columbia and was not part of the official Canadian delegation.

Atwal further said it was "unfair" to raise his criminal conviction as the crime in question happened a long time ago. He also blamed unnamed "enemies" for circulating the photos Postmedia obtained of himself and Sophie Trudeau at the Mumbai event and stressed that he travelled to India on his own on February 11. A Canadian columnist Candice Malcolm meanwhile posted photos on Twitter of Trudeau with Atwal.

"Trudeau is denying his sympathies for Sikh extremists, while also wining and dining them," she said, posting the invite to Atwal for the Delhi dinner. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy blamed India too for the apparent faux pas. "It was foolish on our part that we didn't do a thorough background check," he told ANI. "And the Canadians who say they don't support Khalistanis how could they have allowed this," asked Swamy.

India trip begins under a cloud

Since his India trip began, Trudeau has been in the eye of a storm on the 'Canadian support for Khalistan' issue. He has four Sikhs in his cabinet, one of whom is Harjit Sajjan, a man Punjab CM Amarinder called a "Khalistani sympathiser" and refused to meet with last year.

Another cabinet minister, Amarjeeet Sohi said earlier this month that he's neither sympathetic to nor against the Khalistan movement, a statement that didn't sit well with India.

Many in Canada said India's annoyance was obvious, given what they called the lukewarm response by New Delhi to Trudeau's visit. They cited the fact that PM Narendra Modi didn't received Trudeau at the airport or accompany him to Ahmedabad. They also cited the fact that Trudeau didn't have Uttar Pradesh's BJP CM Adityanath accompany him to the Taj Mahal.

India denied any purposeful snubbing. Official sources told TOI that Trudeau had been received by a Minister of State in keeping with protocol. They also said it was Canada that insisted that Trudeau's official engagements in Delhi take place towards the end of his 7-day visit.

All along the Canadian PMO was mum. After three days of hectic speculation - 'was it a snub or not?' - Trudeau decided to say something in Mumbai. Trudeau 'supports united India'

His administration and Canada, Trudeau said, are committed to "one united India" and his government was serious about cracking down on extremism. When asked why he had not received a "warm" welcome in India, Trudeau said the relationship was not about just political ties and that he was looking forward to "sitting down" with PM Modi.

Then came news that Amarinder and Trudeau would indeed meet. Some reports said Trudeau didn't want to meet Amarinder because the latter refused to meet Canadian defence minister Sajjan last year. Other reports speculated Amarinder didn't want to meet Trudeau.

Eventually, the two met yesterday in Amritsar. In fact, Sajjan too was part of the Canadian delegation that met Punjab's CM. Trudeau affirmed that his country does not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere.

Apparently, Trudeau even cited the example of the separatist movement in the Quebec province of Canada and said that he had dealt with such threats all his life and was fully aware of the dangers of violence.

"They (Canada) will not allow anything which will come between us (India and Canada) to create these problems," said Amarinder after the meeting.

Trudeau is now expected to make the same point forcefully when he meets PM Modi tomorrow.

As the Canadian PMO continued damage control throughout the day today, Trudeau kept a poker face - even smiled a couple of times- as he visited the Jama Masjid in Delhi and later swung the willow a bit with cricket greats Kapil Dev and Mohammad Azharuddin.

He will be hoping the 'sewa' - 'service' - he performed at the Golden Temple in Amritsar yesterday will prevent any further hitches.

Canada blames rogue Indian officals for Atwal visa; India rebuts

India slams Trudeau for Atwal visa slur, March 1, 2018: The Times of India


India slammed as “baseless and unacceptable” a comment by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggesting that former Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal was given a visa as a section of the Indian government wanted to embarrass his government.

Opposition MPs questioned Trudeau in parliament on Tuesday about invitations issued to Atwal — convicted of attempting to assassinate a Punjab minister in 1986 — to attend two events with him in India. National security adviser Daniel Jean’s “anonymous” media briefing last week suggested that Atwal’s presence was arranged by “factions within the Indian government who want to prevent PM Narendra Modi from getting too cosy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India”.

“Does the PM agree with those allegations?” asked opposition leader Andrew Scheer. Trudeau replied, “When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it is because they know it to be true.”


Govt has nothing to do with invite to Atwal, says MEA

A Canadian newspaper said opposition MPs demanded “proof” from Prime Minister Trudeau to back up his government’s allegations. New Democrat MP Charlie Angus accused Trudeau of using a senior civil servant to “spin a conspiracy theory that somehow the Indian government is trying to make the Liberals look bad”.

In a sharply worded comment, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “Let me categorically state that the government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian high commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian high commissioner's reception in New Delhi. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable.”

As reported by TOI, the Indian government has taken a dim view of Jean’s briefing that “rogue elements” in the Indian establishment had let in Atwal into the country. But, as the media and politicians in Canada themselves pointed out, Jean’s charge made little sense because it was the Canadian delegation that had invited Atwal to the events in Mumbai and Delhi. In fact, a Canadian Liberal MP, Randeep S Sarai, took responsibility and tweeted an apology. “I want to again apologise for my role in recent unfortunate events. Moving forward, I will be exercising better judgment. As I don't want to distract from the good work of the Pacific Caucus, I will be stepping down as caucus chair.”

Atwal is among a group of Canadian-Indians who have been taken off the blacklist by the Indian government as it seeks to engage with many of them.

Trudeau visit can trigger reset of India-Canada ties

Indrani Bagchi, February 24, 2018: The Times of India


HIGHLIGHTS

Four out of the six cabinet ministers who travelled with Trudeau were Sikh, as were an overwhelming number of MPs who also travelled with him

Analysts think, Trudeau came to India to score with his Sikh constituency back home

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s visit was a disaster that has little parallel in India’s recent diplomatic history. But as the Canadian prime minister returned home on Saturday after almost a week of recurrent diplomatic missteps, ironically, it may have provided the opportunity to reset relations between Canada and India.

Indian government officials were angry at suggestions by Canadian officials that India was responsible for Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal getting a visa to India and used his presence to embarrass Trudeau.

Trudeau, in his meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi, also complained that his visit had been shadowed by a single issue. Atwal got a visa because he was taken off the blacklist some years ago. But he was part of a number of Trudeau’s own events that did not involve the Indian government at all.

A prime ministerial visit to a foreign country for a week with a thin official component is always fraught with danger. In addition, moving the official meetings to the very end of the trip indicated that the government meetings were an after-thought. Most foreign leaders who throw in other events almost always front-load the official meetings, and then go on to business or tourism events.

Here, it was clear from the start that Trudeau came to India to score with his Sikh constituency back home — four out of the six cabinet ministers who travelled with him were Sikh, as were an overwhelming number of MPs who also travelled with him. Until the media barrage in India forced the Canadian side to change tack, Trudeau was not even ready to meet Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab. Even the Canadian high commissioner’s official reception was a celebration of Punjab with the prime minister himself waltzing in on bhangra beats.

The most glaring misstep was not that Trudeau and his family dressed up in gaudy clothes — that could pass off as a celebration of Indian ethnic chic even if it was slightly over the top. It was Canada’s misunderstanding of the depth of feeling in India on the Khalistan issue. Canadian officials compared the Khalistan issue to the Quebec separatist movement — which counted a single death (of a minister, Pierre Laporte) as opposed to the tens of thousands who were killed at the hands of Khalistanis. Over the years, successive Indian governments have tried to get Canadian governments to change their minds.

“Canada is the only country where the head of government is comfortable to be seen with Sikh separatists,” said senior government sources. There are Khalistani activists in the UK and Australia, but in no country is the government seen to be pandering to these forces. In the event, the joint statement issued at the end of the week-long visit, which named the Babbar Khalsa and International Sikh Youth Federation along with al-Qaida and ISIS, passed everyone by. There is no political cost either — both these groups have been banned in Canada. Officials said they had flagged the Khalistan problem to the Canadian side before the visit began, including at the NSA level during the last round of security talks.

As for Modi not showing up at the airport to greet Trudeau, first, there is reciprocity involved in these gestures — Netanyahu and UAE crown prince both received Modi at the airport. The Canadian expectation was unfounded also in view of the fact that the bilateral relationship is not deep enough to warrant that break from protocol.

The official discussions, when they happened, threw up a lot of good stuff — for instance, Canada got some much-needed comfort from India on pulses, as well as a separate pact on tackling terrorism. But it may take a long time to change perceptions, particularly if Trudeau goes back to the same old after his return.

Why Trudeau’s disaster trip may be blessing in disguise

Indrani Bagchi, Why Trudeau’s disaster trip may be blessing in disguise, February 25, 2018: The Times of India


Ironically, It May Trigger A Reset In Indo-Canada Relations

Justin Trudeau’s visit was a disaster that has little parallel in India’s recent diplomatic history. But as the Canadian Prime Minister returned home on Saturday after almost a week of recurrent diplomatic missteps, ironically, it may have provided the opportunity to reset relations between Canada and India.

Indian government officials were angry at suggestions by Canadian officials that India was responsible for Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal getting a visa to India and used his presence to embarrass Trudeau. Trudeau, in his meeting with PM Modi, also complained that his visit had been shadowed by a single issue. Atwal got a visa because he was taken off the blacklist some years ago. But he was part of a number of Trudeau’s own events that did not involve the Indian government at all.


A prime ministerial visit to a foreign country for a week with a thin official component is always fraught with danger.

In addition, by moving the official meetings to the very end of the trip, it indicated to everyone that the government meetings were an afterthought. Most foreign leaders who throw in other events almost always front-load the official meetings, and then go on to business or tourism events.

Here, it was clear from the start that Trudeau came to India to score with his Sikh constituency back home — four out of the six cabinet ministers who travelled with him were Sikh, as were an overwhelming number of MPs who also travelled with him. Until the media barrage in India forced the Canadian side to change tack, Trudeau was not even ready to meet Amarinder SinghCM of Punjab, where he was doing a photoop at the Golden Temple. Even the Canadian high commissioner’s official reception was a celebration of Punjab with the Prime Minister himself waltzing to bhangra beats.

The most glaring misstep was not that Trudeau and his family dressed up in gaudy clothes — that could pass off as a celebration of Indian ethnic chic even if it was slightly over the top. It was Canada’s misunderstanding of the depth of feeling in India on the Khalistan issue. Canadian officials compared the Khalistan issue to the Quebec separatist movement — which counted a single death (of a minister, Pierre Laporte) as opposed to thousands who were killed at the hands of Khalistanis. Over the years, Indian governments have tried to get Canadian governments to change their minds.

Education

Over 100,000/- Indian students study in Canada. Education is a key area of collaboration between the two countries. The MOU on Cooperation in Higher Education was signed in June 2010, which covers student and faculty exchange, research and curriculum development, organization of workshop and seminars, twining between institutions of higher learning, facilitate mutual recognition of educational qualifications, policy dialogue in areas of mutual interest, among others.

IC-IMPACTS (the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability), which is a Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence dedicated to the development of research collaborations between Canada and India, seeks to bring together researchers, industry innovators, community leaders, government agencies, and community organizations from across India and Canada to work together to find solutions to the key challenges facing the communities. IC-IMPACTS is working with the National Mission for Clean Ganga to find innovative technological solutions to clean the river Ganga; the 'Water for Health' collaboration with Department of Biotechnology and with DST on 'Safe and Sustainable Infrastructure' and 'Integrated Water-Management' initiatives.

Elections in Canada

2019, 2021: Canada alleges interference by India, Pakistan

April 7, 2024: The Times of India


New Delhi: India and Pakistan had tried to “interfere” in Canadian elections held in 2019 and 2021, the country’s spy agency has alleged, according to a media report. India has “strongly” rejected the allegation. 
 An unclassified summary by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) alleging the interference was tabled as part of federal commission of inquiry examining possible meddling by China, India, Russia and others in the 2019 and 2021 elections. The ministry of external affairs, however, has maintained that the allegations are baseless.


Responding to the claims of interference in Feb, spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal had said it was Canada which had been interfering in India’s internal affairs.


According to the document, attempts were made by India and Pakistan to interfere in Canada’s elections, as per the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s reports.


In 2021, govt of India had “intent to interfere and likely conducted clandestine activities”, including using an Indian govt proxy agent in Canada, the CSIS alleged in the documents. In 2019, “Govt of Pakistan officials in Canada attempted to clandestinely influence Canadian federal politics with the aim of furthering govt of Pakistan’s interests in Canada,” the report cited the CSIS documents.


The spy agency alleges that in 2021, Indian govt’s foreign interference activities “were centred on a small number of electoral districts”. “Indian govt targeted those ridings because there was a perception by India that a portion of IndoCanadian voters were sympathetic to Khalistani movement or pro-Pakistan political stances,” the document said.


TNN & AGENCIES

Justin Trudeau and Khalistani groups

Indira Kannan , Shadow of nationalism “India Today” 26/2/2018

When Justin Trudeau became Canada's prime minister in 2015, Surinder Kumar, an accountant in Montreal, recalled the day eight years earlier when the son of the country's former PM Pierre Trudeau had walked into his office. The younger Trudeau was asking for Kumar's support in his nomination for a Liberal Party ticket from a parliamentary 'riding' or constituency in Montreal.

Kumar was a founder of the India Canada Organization, a group started in 2003 to organise cultural events, including the annual India Day parade in August in the Greater Montreal area. Trudeau wanted to reach out to the Indo-Canadian community, and Kumar became a fundraiser for his campaign. Over the past decade, Trudeau has attended the India Day parade in Montreal four times, the first time before he became an MP.

By the time Trudeau attended the parade last year, his first as PM, he was fighting off disquiet in the Indo-Canadian community and concerns in India that his government was enabling pro-Khalistan elements. It's a perception that has persisted despite his government's profession of its desire to strengthen ties with India. Trudeau may have only himself to blame.

PRO-KHALISTAN STANCE

When he unveiled his multi-cultural cabinet in 2015, the initial euphoria about the four Indian faces in the group soon gave way to the realisation that they were all Sikhs, some with alleged ties to Khalistan supporters. In fact, Trudeau attended a Khalsa Day event in Toronto where Khalistan flags and the portrait of former Khalistani militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale were displayed. In Ontario province, ruled by Trudeau's Liberal Party, the legislature passed a resolution last year condemning the "genocide" of Sikhs in India in 1984. Also last year, Canada's High Commissioner to India had to issue an apology after the Indian government reacted sharply when a former CRPF officer was initially denied entry at Vancouver airport on the grounds that he had served a government that engaged in "terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide".

Vishnu Prakash, India's High Commissioner to Canada when Trudeau became PM, says, "The Khalistan issue was sputtering in Canada and of late, the Conservative (Party) politicians had started shying away from the Khalistan platform, whereas the New Democratic Party and Liberals continue to appear on Khalistani platforms." Adds Ajit Someshwar, the Toronto-based Chair of the Canada India Foundation (CIF), "Trudeau is entrenched with groups that were not well disposed towards the Indian government and the Indian Union. Some of his principal funders had said in the past that Sikhs should have a separate state and they have?created a downward trend in what was going to be a strategic relationship." Prakash notes, "Sikhs are an important segment of the Indo-Canadian community, but some of the self-appointed or recognised leaders are trying to create a different identity for the Sikh community."

However, even Trudeau's domestic critics concede he is no different from any politician in a democracy playing to his base. Says Someshwar, "We're talking about a limited number of people, but they are able to mobilise a lot of money and a lot of numbers for Trudeau, so he won't be able to shake them off very easily."

Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Vancouver-based Angus Reid Institute, a leading public opinion research organisation, says the Khalistan issue does not resonate with most Canadians, who are largely inclined to view India favourably.

Indo-Canadians make up nearly 1.4 million, or over 3.5 per cent, of Canada's population, with almost equal numbers of Hindus and Sikhs, according to Statistics Canada. But Sikhs have been far more politically active. "The non-Sikh community is concerned that Trudeau's too close to them. Non-Sikhs don't participate in politics; Sikhs are where they are due to their participation," says Kumar.

Sikhs in Canada are also concentrated in a few ridings in Ontario and British Columbia provinces, where they can swing elections. Other Indian communities are spread across the country and are only now beginning to engage politically. Trudeau has not exactly ignored them, having attended many Diwali celebrations. The ongoing demographic shift among Indo-Canadians is likely to challenge the political influence of the Sikhs, albeit slowly. India is among Canada's top source countries for immigrants and foreign students, and they are now drawn from all across India, not just Punjab. These changes could alter political equations, especially if Trudeau is able to broaden his support base.

BUSINESS OVER POLITICS

Even as it fights off lingering suspicions of supporting pro-Khalistan elements, the Trudeau government has gone out of its way in its India outreach. Eleven ministers from his cabinet have visited India in the past 18 months. Kasi Rao, president and CEO of the Canada India Business Council (C-IBC), says, "I'd be hard pressed to think of any other country where 11 Canadian cabinet ministers have gone, perhaps only to the US. India's very much at the top of the agenda on the trade and commercial side."

Bilateral trade with India, which stands at $8 billion annually-less than half a week's worth of Canada's trade with the US-could receive a boost if long-running negotiations on economic agreements move forward. Kanwar Dhanjal, president of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), which, along with C-IBC and CIF, is organising two business forums in Mumbai and Delhi during Trudeau's visit, says he is hopeful of progress despite political irritants.

Understandably, concerns over any signs of the Khalistan movement's re-emergence are much more magnified in India than in Canada. Indians and Indo-Canadians will expect Trudeau to dispel any doubts on this front. Trudeau's fancy footwork and effortless charm are well-known around the world; he may need to turn them on full force in India.

Visas issued to Indians

See graphic:

Fast-track visas approved by Canada, for Indians and others, June- Sept 2017

Fast-track visas approved by Canada, for Indians and others, June- Sept 2017
From: December 20, 2017: The Times of India

YEAR-WISE DEVELOPMENTS

2023

Politician accuses Trudeau of damaging India trade ties

Sep 12, 2023: The Times of India

New Delhi : Amid growing divergence between India and Canada over the unchecked Khalistani extremism in the North American country, the premier of Saskatchewan province in Canada, Scott Moe, tweeted a letter that trade and export development minister Jeremy Harrison wrote to the federal trade minister in Canada last Friday about the damage Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing to India Canada trade. 
“Does Trudeau even understand the damage he is doing to our trade relationship with India — one of our most important trading partners?” he asked while posting the letter on microblogging site X.


Sikhs turn down referendum

Yudhvir Rana, Sep 12, 2023: The Times of India


Amritsar : Low turnout marked the unofficial Khalistan referendum at a gurdwara in the Canadian town of Surrey, forcing the event organiser to call for a revote on October 29, reports Yudhvir Rana.


In a two-minute, 30-second video posted, outlawed Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) legal counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun made a hate speech against Indian leaders and claimed that “lakhs of Sikhs participated in the referendum”. 
 The clip comes in the backdrop of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement at the G20 Summit in New Delhi that the “actions of a few do not represent the entire commu nity or Canada”.


A vast majority of local Sikhs in Surrey dubbed the referendum a “sham exercise that doesn’t reflect the community’s sentiments”. Jaspal Singh Atwal of Surrey said, “The referendum was an abject failure, a listless exercise. Being dedicated to Canadian history’s worst mass murderer — Talwinder Singh Parmar, mastermind of the Kanishka bombing of Toronto-Delhi Air India Flight 182 in 1985 that killed 329 people — and to another terrorist, Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed outside the venue gurdwara in the recent past, the event failed to engage the local Sikh population.”

USA, UK back Canada on diplomatic parity

Sachin Parashar, Oct 22, 2023: The Times of India

New Delhi : After effectively taking ownership of the Canadian intelligence that allegedly implicates India in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Five Eyes countries have thrown their lot with Ottawa on the issue of parity in diplomatic presence with India, that saw New Delhi expelling 41 Canadian diplomats.

Shortly after India said that its action was consistent with the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, both the US and the UK, in similarly worded statements, accused India of violating the same and urged it to rethink its decision, while also asking the government to join the Canadian pro be into Nijjar’s murder.


The US State Department said it was concerned about the departure of Canadian diplomats from India and urged New Delhi to uphold the Vienna Convention as resolving differences required diplomats on the ground.


“We have urged the Indian government not to insist upon areduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence and to coopera te in the ongoing Canadian investigation. We expect India to uphold its obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, including with respect to privileges and immunities enjoyed by accredited members of Canada’s diplomatic mission,” it said.


The UK also said resolving differences required communication and diplomats in respective capitals and that it did not agree with India’s decisions that resulted in Canadian diplomats departing India.


“We expect all states to uphold their obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The unilateral removal of the privileges and immunities that provide for the safety and security of diplomats is not consistent with the principles or the effective functioning of the Vienna Convention,” said the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in a statement.

See also

Canada- India relations

Indians in Canada

Indians in Canadian politics

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