Canada and India have expelled each other’s diplomats — one each — and issued travel advisories for their own citizens against travelling to the other country, in the massive ongoing diplomatic row over the death of the Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Now, a Canadian minister has said that his nation is “one of the safest countries in the world”.
Despite all the claims of safety and the rule of law in Canada, there has been yet another killing there involving a Sikh individual who had fled India with several criminal cases to his name. Punjab gangster and alleged Khalistan sympathiser Sukhdool Singh, aka Sukha Duneke of Davinder Bambiha gang, was killed in Winnipeg yesterday in the type of gang rivalry that also led to the death of Nijjar.
Reports said that Sukhdool Singh fled from India to Canada in 2017, with seven criminal cases against his name. Nijjar, too, was a wanted criminal who had arrived in Canada with fake papers and a story of persecution; he had, in fact, been designated a terrorist by the time he fled India.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent allegations of the “potential” involvement of Indian government agents in the June 2023 killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, unleashed the row, with India rejecting the charges as “absurd” and “motivated” and kicking out a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official.
India yesterday advised all its citizens living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise “utmost caution” in view of growing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned” hate crimes in the North American country. Just before that, Canada had issued a travel advisory for its own citizens, similarly urging caution when travelling to India.
Yesterday, in a strongly-worded advisory, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi referred to “threats” targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community that oppose the “anti-India agenda”, and asked Indian nationals to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada which have seen such incidents.
Following this Indian MEA advisory, Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller yesterday sought to reassure Indian nationals that it was safe to travel to his country, even as a leader of the Khalistan separatist movement announced plans for rallies in Canadian cities to demand the closing of Indian diplomatic missions.
“Look, I think everyone knows Canada is a safe country and given the events of the last two or three days and the seriousness of the allegations that… it’s important for everyone to stay calm,” said Miller, as quoted by the Canadian press.
“Canada by any standard is one of the safest — if not the safest — countries in the world that is governed by the rule of law. So, I think people should read that statement for what it is,” said Miller.
He acknowledged that Canadian allegations of the “potential” involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Nijjar had heightened tensions with the Indian government. “Given what the Prime Minister has said quite clearly to Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi, the allegations are very serious, and these are discussions that have to continue with India,” he said. “At the same time, emotions are running high, and we’ve asked everyone just to stay calm given the seriousness of the allegations.”
Even though Miller kept harping on the “seriousness of the allegations”, the MEA had, on Tuesday, trashed Trudeau’s comments, asserting that “such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser said that Canadians should have faith in the security services’ ability to investigate the death. “It’s important that if we believe in justice… we believe in the process that gets us there,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Fraser as saying.