According to Arindam Bagchi of the Indian External Affairs Ministry, Canada has not Provided any Specifics Regarding its Alleged Involvement in the Murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Bagchi added that although India had provided authorities with “very specific” proof about illegal conduct occurring on Canadian soil, “it had not been acted upon.”
After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that India may have been involved in the murder of a Canadian Sikh leader, the visa processing center for India in Canada suspended operations on Thursday, widening the gulf between the two nations.
The BLS Indian Visa Application Center in Canada issued a statement saying, “Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September, Indian visa services have been suspended [until] further notice.”
There were no more details provided. Visa applications for India, including those for entry, tourist, student, and job visas, are handled by BLS. The center has physical locations in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, among other cities.
According to the India Bureau of Immigration, 80,000 Canadian visitors visited India in 2021, ranking them as the fourth-largest group. Indians enjoy traveling to Canada, particularly as students. Nearly 300,000 Indians attended Canadian universities in 2022.
cited online threats
According to the High Commission of Canada, “some diplomats have received threats on various social media platforms,” thus they are temporarily changing the staffing levels at their commission and consulate locations in India.
“Global Affairs Canada will continue to take all appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of all our personnel, including locally-engaged staff, and to protect our operations in India,” the commission stated in a statement.
“In the context of respect for obligations under the Vienna conventions, we expect India to provide for the security of our accredited diplomats and consular officers in India, just as we are for theirs here,” the statement continued.
After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that India was involved in the murder of a Sikh leader in British Columbia, a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs responded to questions by saying that Canada is becoming known as a refuge for “terrorists, extremists, and organized crime.”
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh activist for independence who was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18, had been wanted by India for years, and Trudeau stated to Parliament on Monday that there were “credible allegations” of Indian participation in the killing.
On Thursday, India referred to the Canadian investigation’s charges as ludicrous and a ruse to divert attention from the fact that Nijjar and other sought individuals are in Canada.
“If we’re talking about reputational damage, if there’s one country that needs to take a look at this, I think it’s Canada and its growing reputation as a safe haven for terrorists, extremists, and organized crime,” said Bagchi. “I believe that nation needs to be concerned about its standing abroad.”
Bagchi claimed that although it has demanded extradition for 20 to 25 people it considers to be criminals, Canada has not complied. It wasn’t immediately apparent how long those requests would take.
Bagchi claimed that Canada has not offered any evidence to support its claim on the Nijjar killing.
“We are ready to review any specific data. This has been communicated to the Canadian side,” stated Bagchi. They have been made aware that we are ready to consider any specific information that is given to us.
At the time of his death, Nijjar was organizing an unofficial Sikh diaspora referendum on independence from India. India had accused him of being a terrorist, which he had refuted.
The claim has led to retaliatory actions of criticism and denunciation. This week, the two nations expelled their diplomats, and on Wednesday, India updated its travel warning, advising its citizens traveling to Canada, especially those studying there, to exercise caution due to “growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate-crimes.”
Indians should stay away from places in Canada where “threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose anti-India agenda,” the ministry advised.
Repression in India
Khalistan demands originated as an insurgency in Punjab state, India, in the 1970s, which was put down by a government crackdown that resulted in thousands of deaths. The movement still retains adherents in Punjab, where Sikhs are the majority, as well as among the sizeable Sikh diaspora abroad, despite having lost most of its political power in the intervening years.
The National Investigation Agency of India announced on Wednesday that it has stepped up its efforts to root out Sikh rebels operating there. For information that results in the capture of five rebels, one of whom is thought to be stationed in neighboring Pakistan, it offered prizes of up to 1 million rupees ($16,230 Cdn).
The CIA charged them with carrying out targeted killings in India and extorting money from companies for the Babbar Khalsa International, a banned Sikh group.
It issued a statement in which it said, “They also have established a network of operatives in various countries to further their terrorist activities in India,” but it did not mention any particular nation.
Pakistan dismisses India’s accusations that it has supported insurgencies in Kashmir and Punjab.