Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 20, 2023
India’s Troubling Shift Toward Rogue State Behaviour
As the world’s attention is drawn to the annual gathering of the United Nations in New York, a disconcerting narrative is emerging: India, a nation once celebrated for its democratic values, is stepping into a perilous realm reminiscent of rogue states like Russia and Saudi Arabia, notorious for sponsoring the assassination of their critics on foreign soil. The recent accusation by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the Indian government may be involved in the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil has ignited a geopolitical firestorm.
Trudeau’s bold assertion points directly at India’s ruling administration under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suggesting that it could be linked to the fatal shooting of Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia on June 18. In response, Trudeau took the extraordinary step of expelling a top Indian diplomat, the head of Indian intelligence in Canada, underscoring the seriousness of the allegations.
The Times of India: India, Canada pause trade talks amid Khalistan row
This controversy unfolds against the backdrop of mounting tensions between Canada and India. Modi, a Hindu nationalist leader, has urged Trudeau to quash Sikh protesters in Canada advocating for Khalistan, an independent homeland in North India’s Punjab district. Trudeau, while addressing the Canadian House of Commons, declared, “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.” He called on the Indian government to cooperate with Canada in getting to the bottom of this matter.
The repercussions of this crisis extend beyond diplomatic tensions. Canada hosts one of the largest overseas communities of Indian origin, making up around 1.4 million individuals. Sikhism, the faith of many Khalistan supporters, is reported by approximately 770,000 people in the 2021 Census. Trade talks between the two nations, once promising, have frozen due to “certain political developments,” potentially damaging the economic relationship. In 2022, bilateral trade was valued at just C$13.7 billion, a small fraction of Canada’s total trade.
Furthermore, the Khalistan issue has global reverberations. Sikh separatist sentiments, driven by historical tensions between Sikhs and Hindu nationalist rulers in India, have emerged in various parts of the world. Khalistan supporters are active not only in Canada but also in the United States, where some attempted to set fire to the Indian consulate in San Francisco. Similar incidents have been reported in Brisbane, Australia, and London, England, further straining India’s diplomatic ties.
It is concerning to witness this rise of rogue state-like behaviour, seemingly in concert with each other. As India grapples with allegations of extraterritorial assassinations, the world watches closely. The annual United Nations gathering serves as a poignant reminder that international norms, peace, and diplomacy must remain paramount in our interconnected world. The onus is on the global community to address these issues, fostering dialogue and cooperation while holding those responsible for transgressions accountable. (AI)