Tensions between India and Canada escalated on Wednesday, with New Delhi issuing an advisory to Indian nationals in Canada, including students, to exercise utmost caution in view of “growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes”, and asking them to register with Indian missions.
This followed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s refusal to acknowledge India’s denial of any involvement in the assassination of Sikh separatist activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, and instead asking the country to treat the matter with ”utmost seriousness”. Trudeau, however, maintained that he was not trying to provoke India.
In the advisory issued on Tuesday by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), all Indian nationals in Canada, and those contemplating travel, were asked to exercise utmost caution due to growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence. “Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda. Indian nationals are, therefore, advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents,” it said.
Indian nationals, including students, in Canada must also register with the High Commission of India in Ottawa or Consulates General of India in Toronto and Vancouver through their respective websites, or the MADAD portal, the advisory added.
Canada had updated its travel advisory for India on Tuesday, advising its citizens to avoid travel to Jammu & Kashmir and non-essential travel to Assam and Manipur, but it was in line with its earlier advisories.
A big diplomatic row broke out between India and Canada on Monday when Trudeau, in a Parliament address, said the Canadian security agencies had been pursuing “credible allegations’’ of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar. He said all steps necessary to hold perpetrators of this murder to account will be taken. Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat after which India, too, expelled a Canadian diplomat.
After India strongly denied the allegations, Trudeau, on Tuesday, said India needed to treat the matter seriously. “The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that; we are not looking to provoke or escalate,” he said.
On June 18, Nijjar, the president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and a pro-Khalistan separatist militant, was shot dead by two masked gunmen on the grounds of the Gurdwara, in Surrey, B.C.
The US and Australia voiced serious concern following Trudeau’s allegations against India while the UK said it was in contact with Canada on the matter.
Canada has reportedly worked ‘very closely’ with the US on intelligence that Indian agents may have had links with Nijjar’s murder.
India, in response to Canada’s allegations, accused the country of harboring terrorists. It said that Canada’s inaction against extremists was a long-standing concern.