Nijjar case arrests may further take toll on India-Canada ties

The EAM  has said that although the Canadian government had informed them about the arrest of three Indians, Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh and Karan Brar in connection with Nijjar killing case but it is yet to provide any “specific or relevant evidence”.  A report by Pawan Kumar Bansal

Relations between India and Canada are at lowest ebb with India accusing the Canadian government of promoting anti-India activities from its soil. The present situation is a far cry from the days when a decade back, Prime Minister Narender Modi was welcomed in Canada by its government when he had visited Canada on invitation of Indians living in Canada.

Relationship has been strained to the extent that Indian envoy in Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma has warned that the Sikh separatists groups were crossing “a big red line” that India sees as a matter of national security and of the country’s territorial integrity. His warning came after the arrest of three Indian nationals accused of killing Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Political observers believe that both the ruling as well as opposition parties in Canada heavily depend upon support of pro-Khalistani Members of Parliament for their survival and hence they are supporting them. Ties between the two countries had nosedived when following the killing of Nijjar, the Canadian government blamed Indian agents for the crime.

On the other hand, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal has stated that although Canadian government had informed them about the arrest of three Indians, Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh and Karan Brar for the murder of Nijjar but it is yet to provide any “specific or relevant evidence”.

The Canada police have charged them with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the Nijjar case. Investigators have refused to divulge further information on the ground that it may impact the on-going investigation. What is shocking is the fact that investigators are blaming officials of the Indian government. Amandeep who has been arrested after the three others were held is accused of giving his places of residence at Brampton, Surrey and Abbotsford. The police said that the accused had entered the country on “student visas”  but actually they were working on the directions of Indian Intelligence agencies which might have asked them to commit the murder.

Nijjar was killed at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara. The Canadian Police believes that all the four accused were living as non-permanent residents in Canada for the last three to five years.

It may be recalled that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has alleged that agents of the Indian government were involved in the killing of Nijjar. Randhir Jaiswal has said that we are convinced that “separatists, extremists and those advocating violence are being encouraged in Canada by the government.” Even Indian diplomats were threatened with impunity and obstructed from discharging their duties. Raising of pro-Khalistani slogans at the events in the presence of the Canadian PM has been taken very seriously in India as it encourages the anti-India elements and gives a clear message that the government is behind them. India is reportedly planning to keep the proposed trade deal with Canada in the cold storage until Canada stops encouraging anti-India activities from their soil.

Sources said that India would not tolerate any activities by pro-Khalistani elements in Canada  and use all diplomatic channels on international platforms to check it.

A large number of residents of Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the country are living in Canada for the last several years as bonafide citizens and they are working as professionals and successful businessmen. The recent spurt in the activities of pro-Khalistani and anti-India forces have added to their worries as they feel that in future these elements will target them. A large number of Sikhs living in Canada do not support the activities of these elements but they are not in a position to oppose them considering their clout in the Government.

Haryanvis living in various parts of Canada have formed a group called “Haryanvi Bhaichara group” in which they keep on raising their apprehensions.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is still waiting for evidence to be provided by the Canadian government to buttress their claim that India was behind the killings. There is a feeling in India that due to political reasons, the Canadian government is unnecessarily blaming the Indian government for the killing of Nijjar. The Indian Government will react to the allegations of Canadian Police about its role in the killing of Nijjar only if the Canadian government provides evidence to support its charges.