TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Canada has expelled an Indian diplomat in response to India’s order for a senior Canadian diplomat to leave the country within five days.
This escalation follows tensions surrounding the killing of a Sikh separatist earlier this year, according to Al Jazeera.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs expressed concerns about the interference of Canadian diplomats in its internal matters and their involvement in activities deemed anti-India. The dispute has strained relations, leading to disrupted trade talks and the cancellation of a planned Canadian trade mission to India.
Protests by pro-Sikh independence groups in Canada have further complicated matters and raised concerns within the Indian government.
Ottawa previously stated it was actively investigating credible allegations linking Indian government agents to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The murder occurred in British Columbia on June 18 while Nijjar was reportedly organizing an unofficial referendum in India for an independent Sikh nation.
India dismissed these allegations as “absurd and motivated” and called for legal action against anti-Indian elements operating from Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged India to cooperate in the investigation, emphasizing that foreign government involvement in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is unacceptable.
The Indian government countered these allegations, highlighting Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have found shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly confirmed the expulsion of a top Indian diplomat, identified as the head of Indian intelligence in Canada, in response to the situation.
The Khalistan movement, advocating for an independent Sikh homeland, remains banned in India. While the movement has limited political support within India, it has a presence in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, which host a significant Sikh diaspora.
India has historically pursued Sikh separatists, and the Modi government has elevated the Khalistani threat as a national security concern. The controversy surrounding the movement has escalated under Modi’s administration.
The 1984 storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the epicenter of Sikhism, by Indian forces to eliminate Sikh separatists led to a significant loss of life and triggered anti-Sikh riots across northern India.
Modi’s government has intensified its pursuit of Sikh separatists, and the movement’s influence remains a contentious issue.