Certainly! Here’s a timeline of the recent India-Canada conflict over the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar:
- September 1: Canada pauses talks on a proposed trade treaty with India, which was unexpected given that both countries had previously planned to seal an initial agreement this year.
- September 10: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveys strong concerns about Sikh separatist protests in Canada to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a Group of 20 summit in New Delhi.
- September 15: Canada postpones a trade mission to India that was planned for October due to concerns surrounding Nijjar’s killing.
- September 18: Trudeau tells the Canadian Parliament that Canada is “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to the killing of Nijjar, who was campaigning for the creation of an independent Sikh homeland carved out of India.
- September 19: India dismisses Trudeau’s assertion as “absurd” and both countries expel diplomats in tit-for-tat moves.
- September 20: India urges its citizens in Canada to exercise caution, while the United States, Australia, and Britain express concerns over Nijjar’s killing.
- September 21: India’s JSW Steel Ltd begins to slow down a process to buy a stake in the coal unit of Canada’s Teck Resources due to the ongoing diplomatic tensions.
Additionally, Canada’s government is currently in discussions with India about its diplomatic presence in the country. Reports suggest that Canada has been instructed to reduce the number of diplomats by two-thirds, which would significantly reduce its contingent in New Delhi2. The diplomatic spat has also put the US in an awkward position, as it seeks to balance its relationships with both India and Canada.
The situation remains tense, and both countries are closely monitoring developments as they navigate this delicate diplomatic issue.
How long has the India-Canada conflict been going on?
The India-Canada conflict has a long history, with tensions periodically flaring up over various issues. Here are some key points about the conflict:
- Historical Context:
- The origin of this growing tension goes as far back as the 1940s. Relations between Canada and India have generally been friendly and productive, but certain events over the last 75 years have caused tensions to arise periodically.
- Indo-Canadian relations deteriorated significantly after India’s Smiling Buddha nuclear test in May 1974. The Canadian government severed bilateral nuclear cooperation with both India and Pakistan in 1976, alleging that the fissionable material used to construct India’s first nuclear weapon had been synthesized with the Canadian-supplied CIRUS nuclear research reactor.
- Recent Developments:
- In recent times, the conflict has centred around the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. Nijjar, who advocated for carving out an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan, was shot dead by unidentified attackers outside a temple in Surrey in June 2023.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an explosive announcement in the Canadian Parliament on September 18, 2023, alleging that Indian agents were behind Nijjar’s assassination. This revelation strained ties between the two countries, with New Delhi dismissing the accusation as “absurd” and expelling a Canadian diplomat.
- The dispute has raised fresh security concerns in both India and Canada, with some within Canada’s Sikh community considering Nijjar a martyr. The diplomatic row has also highlighted how separatist ambitions persist within the diaspora long after they faded back in India.
- Specific Issues:
- Canada has been accused by India of providing safe havens to pro-Khalistan extremists.
- The suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens by India due to “security threats” faced by its High Commission and consulates in Canada further escalated tensions.
- The status of the proposed Free Trade Agreement between the two countries remains uncertain amid the ongoing conflict.
In summary, while India and Canada have had friendly relations overall, specific issues related to separatism, security concerns, and diplomatic incidents have contributed to the ongoing conflict.