Canada and India Expel Diplomats Due to Sikh Activist’s Death

On Tuesday, India sacked a Canadian envoy and charged that country with meddling in its domestic affairs. The action was taken the day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his administration was looking into a potential link between India and the Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s death. Nijjar was an activist in the Sikh independence struggle and a citizen of Canada. On June 18, just outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia, he was shot and killed. A senior Indian diplomat was expelled by Canada in dissent.

The Indian government has refuted any responsibility for Nijjar’s murder. “We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them,” Trudeau retorted. “We want to work with the Indian government to lay everything out and make sure there are proper processes,” he continued. Canada has been charged by India on several occasions with aiding Khalistan, the Sikh independence movement. Although the movement is outlawed in India, Sikhs who reside abroad support it. Nijjar was labeled a terrorist in 2020 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist administration. According to Indian media, he was accused of planning a blast in Punjab, India, and of providing terrorist training in a remote region close to Vancouver, Canada.

In the 1980s, Sikhs desiring their own nation launched an armed rebellion that eventually evolved into the Sikh independence movement. The majority-Sikh region of northern Punjab state served as its focal point. Approximately 1.7% of India’s population is Sikh. The Golden Temple, the holiest place in Sikhism, was stormed by Indian forces in 1984 in an attempt to apprehend separatists who had found refuge there. The authorities stated that 400 people died during the operation. Yet thousands, according to Sikh groups, were slain. Among the deceased was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a Sikh militant leader who was charged by the Indian government with being the head of the armed rebellion.

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