(MENAFN- Live Mint) "India and Canada seems to have been on the brink of straining ties as Canadian Prime Minister announced that they are investigating the death of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar's death on 'Canadian soil' and alleged that there is“credible allegations” that Indian Government agents were linked to the 18 June slaying.
Notably, in May this year, another Khalistan extremist was also killed in a foreign land- Pakistan- a killing that seemed similar to Nijjar's murder.
Let's take a look
In May 2023, Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) chief Paramjit Singh Panjwar was shot dead by unrecognised assailants in Pakistan's Lahore. Reports had said, Panjwar's, one of the most wanted terrorist, was pumped with bullets fired from a 30 calibre pistol as he took his morning constitutional at Johar Town in Lahore along with his gunman.In June 2023, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was gunned down on the grounds of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple.
All these killings happened after a radical pro-Khalistan separatist leader Amritpal Singh Sandhu was arrested in India's Moga, Punjab and sent to Assam jail under NSA.
Amritpal Singh's arrest had also triggered unrest and violence unleashed upon several Indian consulates in UK's London, US' San Francisco, and Canada.
India has repeatedly condemned the Pro-Khalistan activities that were unleashed on Indian consulates in foreign soil.
However, it is the turning of tables on international relations that might have backfired as terrorists harming India's peace have been killed in foreign soil.
While Panjwar's killing in Pakistan was reported by the Asian nation's media as a regular killing of a Pakistani Sikh called Sardar Singh Malik, Canada decided not to sit silent on Nijjar's demise and alleged that India's intelligence agents were likely involved.
Nijjar was a government-designated terrorist, and so was Panjwar. According to reports, in 2011, India had handed over a list of fifty most wanted people by Delhi and seeking refuge in Pakistan , which included Panjwar.Similarly, Indian government had also sought information or action under the 1987 extradition treaty and the 1998 mutual legal assistance treaty or through Interpol against Nijjar who was in Canada. Further, in 2022, Punjab Police approached Canadian authorities seeking Nijjar's extradition to India. However, the extradition request was nullified after his death in June this yearCanada is home to the world's largest Sikh population outside of India, and discontent has long simmered between Canada and India over Sikh separatism, a movement that has had a bloody history.What is the Khalistan movement?
For decades, a section of Sikhs have called for the creation of an independent homeland, which would be carved out of Punjab. The movement has long been opposed by the Indian government, which considers it treasonous.This demanded area of Khalistan would be carved out of what is now Punjab in India. The demand has only been frowned upon by every Indian government.
This movement has also taken a violent turn. In 1984, dueing Operation Blue Star, Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and a group of armed militants holed up at the Golden Temple, in Amritsar. The then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent armed forces to arrest them, resulting in damage to the temple and the deaths of hundreds.
Later that year, two of Indira Gandhi's own Sikh bodyguards, Satwant and Beant Singh, assassinated her in revenge.
Afterward, violent anti-Sikh riots spread across the country and left thousands of followers of the Sikh religion dead. That violence spilled over into Canada, where in 1985 Sikh militant terrorists smuggled a bomb onto an Air India flight that exploded in midair as it flew from Montreal to London. More than 300 people were killed in what remains the deadliest terrorist attack in Canadian history.The latest crackdown on Amritpal Singh Sandhu also contributed to renewed incidences of violence, which is no surprise if considered empirically.
Whether the Nijjar issue permanently damages the India-Canada relations will be future one awaits to witness.
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