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HomeIndiaExercise caution in Canada, ‘politically condoned’ hate crimes there: India

Exercise caution in Canada, ‘politically condoned’ hate crimes there: India

IN FURTHER escalation of the diplomatic standoff between the two countries, Delhi on Wednesday issued a strongly-worded advisory to Indian nationals in Canada, warning against “anti-India activities” and “politically-condoned hate crimes”.

This comes a day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged a “potential link” between “agents of the Government of India” and the killing of a Khalistan separatist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Canada earlier this year. As Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat, India retaliated on Tuesday by expelling a senior Canadian diplomat.

In its advisory on Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said: “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.”

Must Read | The Khalistan shadow on India-Canada ties, over the years

“Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda… Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents,” it said.

“Given the deteriorating security environment in Canada, Indian students in particular are advised to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant,” it said.

The MEA said the Indian High Commission and Consulates General will continue to be in contact with the Canadian authorities to ensure the safety and well-being of the Indian community in Canada.

“Indian nationals and students from India in Canada must also register with the High Commission of India in Ottawa or Consulates General of India in Toronto and Vancouver through their respective websites, or the MADAD portal, Registration would enable the High Commission and the Consulates General to better connect with Indian citizens in Canada in the event of any emergency or untoward incident,” it said.

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By calling it “politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence”, Delhi is targeting the Trudeau government. India has alleged inaction by Canada against pro-Khalistan supporters, seen as the Trudeau government’s attempt to woo the Canadian-Sikh community. India feels this has emboldened pro-Khalistan groups to vandalise the Indian embassy and consulates, and incite violence against Indian diplomats based there.

The usual fallout of such a travel advisory is that official visits and visits sanctioned by the Indian government will not take place. Visits by private individuals on tourist, business and student visas, however, can continue.

Such a travel advisory is hard to follow and implement, since the two countries are closely linked through people-to-people ties – through families, studies and business.

Canada hosts one of the largest Indian diasporas in the world, numbering 16 lakh people of Indian origin, accounting for over 3 per cent of the total Canadian population, including 7 lakh NRIs.

khalistan nijjar A photograph of Hardeep Singh Nijjar is seen on a banner outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, British Columbia, on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. (Photo: AP)

India became the top source of foreign students studying in Canada — 2.3 lakh, according to 2022 data. Indian companies in Canada are active in information technology, software, steel, natural resources and banking sectors.

However, the advisory is a diplomatic measure to cut down on travel, and a signal to the business community to reduce interactions.

Nijjar, 46, head of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, Canada, was shot by two unidentified men outside the gurdwara in June this year. He was the chief of the separatist organisation, Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). The NIA had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information leading to his arrest.

“Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau had said in a speech in the House of Commons on Monday.

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The MEA had rejected his statement as “absurd and motivated”.

Ties between India and Canada have been strained for some time now. In July, India sent out a strongly-worded message to the Canadian government on posters by pro-Khalistan groups inciting violence against senior Indian diplomats. The posters had surfaced ahead of a “rally” organised by pro-Khalistan groups.

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“In the name of freedom of expression, we should not be giving space to those who advocate violence or propagate separatism or legitimise terrorism… the posters inciting violence against our diplomats and our diplomatic premises abroad are unacceptable and we condemn them in the strongest terms,” the MEA had said.

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