How Canada-India Relations Crumbled

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Signs that fraught relations between Canada and India were heading further south became clear during the G-20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, unlike other Western leaders, did not hold formal bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Instead, the two leaders raised serious concerns with each other on the sidelines of the summit, where Modi brought up “continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada,” according to his office.

Experts say India-Canada ties—historically driven by trade and the presence of a large Indian diaspora in Canada—have slowly deteriorated in recent years over claims from India that Canada has fostered sympathy toward a Sikh separatist movement, and counter-claims from Canada accusing Indian officials of interfering in its domestic politics.

That relationship hit rock bottom on Monday when Trudeau made an explosive statement before the Canadian Parliament that Ottawa was pursuing “credible allegations” from Canadian intelligence against New Delhi for playing a role in the assassination of a prominent Sikh Canadian leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, on Canadian soil in June. The Canadian government expelled a senior Indian diplomat shortly after Trudeau’s comments; India swiftly retaliated by issuing a statement Tuesday that denied any involvement in Nijjar’s death and expelled an unnamed senior Canadian diplomat.

“Today’s allegation has dealt a major blow to the relationship; the damage to the relationship will not be easily repaired,” says Brahma Chellaney, a former adviser to India’s National Security Council, based in New Delhi.

Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center think-tank, says the combination of increasing Sikh activism in Canada, growing Indian pressure on Ottawa, and Ottawa’s unwillingness to address Indian concerns has “plunged bilateral relations into a deep crisis today.” He adds, “The knives are out.”

Source : Time News