The India-Canada Khalistan row has emerged as a significant geopolitical issue, involving complex historical, political, and cultural dimensions. This contentious topic revolves around the demand for a separate Sikh state, Khalistan, which proponents argue would address perceived injustices faced by the Sikh community in India.
The recent strain in the diplomatic relations between India and Canada can be traced back to the Khalistan movement, a Sikh separatist movement that aimed to establish an independent state in Punjab, a region in northern India. This movement, which began as an armed rebellion in the late 1980s, was marked by a demand for a separate homeland by Sikhs. The violent phase of the movement lasted for over a decade and was eventually suppressed by the Indian government, resulting in the death of thousands, including key Sikh leaders.
India has consistently accused Canada of providing refuge to Khalistani activists. The recent exacerbation of tensions between the two countries is largely due to India’s concerns about pro-Khalistani groups operating from Canada.
The diplomatic fallout from these events has been significant. Both countries have expelled diplomats, and India has suspended visa services for Canadian citizens. This diplomatic impasse is still ongoing and continues to evolve. The Indian government has recently issued a warning to its citizens residing in Canada, particularly students, due to an increase in anti-India activities and hate crimes.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has stated on the ongoing India-Canada dispute, “No specific information was shared by Canada on this case (Nijjar case). We are willing to look at specific information. From our side, specific information regarding criminal activities by individuals based on Canadian soil was shared but has not been acted upon,”.