The state of relations between India and Canada

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The state of relations between India and Canada

The state of relations between India and Canada


India and Canada's relations have been facing several hurdles and now a new issue has been added. Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a very controversial statement concerning India's internal affairs. The Canadian Prime Minister expressed public support for the ongoing farmer's protests in India. And he called upon the Indian government to uphold its democratic constitutional obligation of supporting the fundamental right to freedom of protest. The Canadian Prime Minister stated that Canada will always stand up for the right to peaceful protest anywhere in the world. He called upon the Indian government to engage with the farmers to address their genuine concerns. So this controversial statement of the Canadian Prime Minister, on India's internal matters has triggered an angry response from India. India's Ministry of External Affairs has called this an unacceptable interference in India's internal affairs, and the MEA had even summoned the Canadian High Commissioner, and he has also been issued or demarche. As for diplomatic protocols made it very clear that any such open interference by Canada, India's internal matters directly have a bearing on the bilateral relationship. Along with this development, several protests have been witnessed in Canada as well. Wherein the Indo Canadian community with sympathizers with the farmers of Punjab and Haryana have staged demonstrations in front of the Indian High Commission and consulates in Canada.

Apart from this latest issue. The other long pending issue in the India Canada relationship is the Khalistan issue, both these issues are connected to the strong Sikh diaspora, which happens to be politically very influential in Canada. Khalistan movement is an insurgent and terrorist movement that dates back to the 1980s and 1990s. Under the Khalistan movement, a few radical Khalistani extremists were seeking to liberate the Indian state of Punjab and establish this region, as an independent country known as Khalistan. This insurgent terrorist movement was openly backed by Pakistan's ISI from across the border and it also received active support from some of the radical elements amongst the Sikh diaspora, located in multiple countries abroad. A few radical extremists among the Sikh diaspora sympathize with the Khalistan cause, and this created a strong foreign base for the Khalistan movement in several countries, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy.

So few radical members of the Sikh diaspora, with the support of Pakistan's ISI, were instrumental in creating this foreign support for the Khalistan insurgent terrorist movement that witnessed movement movement movement movement movement the Indian state of Punjab. In these countries, a strong base for the Khalistan movement had been set up by the extremist outfits and Khalistan based terror groups, such as the Babbar Khalsa International, the Khalistan Tiger force, Khalistan Zindabad Force, etc. They all established a strong base in these countries. Unfortunately, these radical elements misuse the Gurudwara in these countries, and they turned them into bases for Khalistani extremists and in most cases, these foreign governments were turning a blind eye to the extremist activists,  Khalistan, despite repeated requests from India to act against them. The Khalistan movement was at its peak, during the 1980s and 1990s. Several terror attacks originated in Canada. This included the bombing of an Air India flight which resulted in the deaths of more than 300 passengers. Finally, after these major incidents of terror and after Indian diplomatic pressure, Canadian authorities started acting upon Khalistan Extremist but the support base for the Khalistan cause has always existed in Canada. A few extremist elements in the Sikh diaspora have also remained very influential within the Canadian government, and with Canada's political parties, and this has always been a source of friction in the India Canada relationship. Recently 2018, there was one such incident that flared up and had a significant impact on the bilateral relations in 2018 with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on a visit to India, his prime ministerial delegation included a controversial individual, known as Jaspal Atwal. He was a convicted terrorist in India. Back in the 1980s, Jaspal Atwal was a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, which is a ban terrorist organization, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, he was convicted in the assassination of a Punjab state minister and had later sought refuge in Canada. So his inclusion as a part of the Canadian delegation triggered a major diplomatic incident between India and Canada in 2018. After India neutralized the Khalistan movement in the 1990s by acting both on the domestic front, and as well as on the international front.

There has always existed a base for Khalistan sympathizers in Canada. India has reasons to believe that Pakistan's ISI is trying to revive the movement by sponsoring the remnants of the Khalistan movement to run campaigns on social media platforms. One such online campaign is the Call for a Khalistan 2020 referendum, which enjoys considerable support amongst the Khalistan sympathizers based out of Canada. So these radical elements, who have been working with the support of Pakistan's ISI have always posed a significant national security challenge for India. India has always insisted that the Canadian government and the Canadian authorities should act against these extremists. So the Khalistan issue and the limited support by few radical elements within the Sikh diaspora have always been a hurdle and friction in the India Canada relationship. And now, the public comments made by the Canadian Prime Minister in support of the farmer's protests have invited an angry response from India, and it highlights the state of relations between India and Canada.

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