Indians express anger at Canada for supporting Sikh separatists –.JPGw1440

Indians express anger at Canada for supporting Sikh separatists – The Washington Post

Comment on this storyComment

NEW DELHI – Canada’s announcement that India may be behind the killing of a Sikh separatist was a bombshell across much of the world, but for many in India it was the death of someone they saw as a wanted terrorist months ago , about a more pressing matter – that of Canada’s tolerance of Indian separatists.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations on Monday brought strained relations between the two countries to a new low. India has particularly objected to the existence of a vocal Sikh separatist minority in Canada.

“The support received by these lawless elements under the guise of what you call freedom of expression and democratic rights of citizens has enabled Khalistani activists in Canada to pursue a violent agenda,” said Nirupama Rao, a former Indian foreign minister . “The choice is Canada’s – it must control such elements with a firm hand and not allow them free rein to promote terrorism and violence in our country.”

India expels Canadian diplomat as dispute over alleged assassination escalates

Anger over Canada’s perceived support for groups seeking an independent Sikh state called Khalistan in India’s Punjab region puts Canada, for many Indians, on the same level as arch-enemy Pakistan – which many Indian security officials believe provides them with refuge. Offering money and weapons to Sikh separatists.

“Is Trudeau aiming to become Imran?” host Aman Chopra asked on News18 on Tuesday, referring to Canadian leader and former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“Canada is becoming to the West what Pakistan is to the East,” said Aseem Arora, a screenwriter who has worked on several spy thriller scripts for films and series. “Canada needs to look in its own backyard. They have to be careful about what they let grow, what they let bloom.”

While New Delhi called Trudeau’s claims “absurd,” Arora found the whole affair a confirmation of India’s recent strongman image.

It’s an image that Arora says is being emulated in the new spy heroes that have appeared in several recent blockbuster films – including those he wrote – depicting the exploits of the secret service.

“Indian cinema has undergone a cultural shift because our political establishment has become much more committed to defending the country,” Arora said. “The average citizen is much more aware of what the country’s security forces are doing. … Nobody talked about it before. Now we all do it.”

The social networking website X, formerly known as Twitter, has been flooded with references to a “New India” Several Indian users thank Trudeau for this affirmative which they say is further evidence of India’s growing geopolitical power and military might.

On Instagram, YouTubers praised Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar for his handling of the diplomatic crisis, particularly the decision to quickly expel a Canadian Embassy official this week.

The events, said Rajesh Rajagopalan, a professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, are likely to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi domestically. “The Indian middle class has long been jealous of the kind of actions that Israel or the US carry out against their enemies far from their borders,” he said. “This kind of action, or even just the suspicion that it was an Indian action, is likely to cause great satisfaction among sections of the Indian public who are aware of such developments.”

The Indian government on Wednesday advised Indians in Canada to exercise caution amid “increasing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence.”

Some students in India hoping to study in Canada said they viewed the developments as a hindrance to their future. Ayush Verma, a 23-year-old aspiring diplomat currently preparing for India’s civil service exam, said his colleagues are concerned about the impact on permanent visas and citizenship in Canada. “That’s the kind of fear among my friends who want to go there. Canada has become very accessible for Indian students.”

Verma is no fan of Modi but said it would be “legitimate” if India had killed Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada in June.

“Everyone knew that if Trudeau didn’t take strong action, India will take it upon itself to address this issue,” he said. “India is ready to take strict action if foreign leaders do not change their approach to domestic politics.”

In an editorial that described Canada as the “lone exception” to India’s growing proximity to Western powers, the Indian Express blamed the current impasse on the extremist compulsions driving Trudeau’s domestic policy. “Now that his popularity appears to be waning, Trudeau appears to be portraying India as an enemy in a bid to reverse this trend,” the article said.

How Canada became involved in the Sikh struggle in India

Even sober voices from India’s corporate world questioned why the current Canadian government was putting its weight behind people many consider to be terrorists.

“When Canadian truckers protested outside Ottawa, they froze their bank accounts, arrested their families and put them in jail,” said Deepak Shenoy, managing director of Capitalmind, an investment firm. “These truckers are being treated like terrorists. But there are actual terrorists who receive the support of a political party and stay clean in Canada. I have to say it.”

In Canada, the Sikh diaspora grew after the 1980s, when a Sikh militancy demanding a state of Khalistan took the Indian state of Punjab by storm. Indians remember the bombing of an Air India flight in 1985 that killed many Canadians of Indian origin. The Indian government has demanded the extradition of the accused mastermind, a Sikh man, and many Indians have accused Canada of dragging out the investigation.

More recently, with pro-Khalistan protests in Canada, attacks on Indian diplomatic missions in San Francisco and London, and increasing threats against Indian diplomats in these Western countries, Indian authorities are becoming more than frustrated with their counterparts, whom they believe that they abuse freedom of expression.

The allegations from Canada came as Modi is at a domestic political high point, having recently inaugurated a major new parliament building and successfully hosted the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi.

While the official denials have been backed up by retired Indian intelligence officials claiming in interviews that this is not the way India’s intelligence agencies work, most people seem happy to enjoy this display of “muscular nationalism” – a new cultural ethos embodied by screenwriter Pawan Sony sees the latest selection of Bollywood films.

What is the Khalistan separatist movement behind the India-Canada divide?

While spy thrillers have been a part of Indian cinema since the 1960s, they took a backseat to social comedies and romantic comedies in the 1990s, Sony said. Then came the huge success of the 2019 film “Uri: A Surgical Strike,” which dramatized a real-life attack by India in 2016 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The term “Surgical strike” was happily used by Indians on social media following Trudeau’s allegations.

However, for some in Punjab, the disappointment lies in the fact that developments like this portray all Sikhs as separatists. “There is not much support for this idea of ​​Khalistan among the larger section of Sikhs,” said Punjabi journalist Gurshamshir Singh Waraich, adding that the Punjabis who migrated during the state’s period of militancy have a “disturbed memory”, in which threatening actions and statements occur against their communities further contributes to their “psyche”.

Still, he said, “Sikh political activists in Canada should show restraint. “If an unfortunate violent incident is reported there, Sikhs in India and Punjab will face serious consequences.”

Waraich said the “hypernationalism” in India’s new popular films shows the “power of the Indian state in the most extrajudicial way.” There is a strong campaign to persecute Israel in every aspect, including its intelligence services. It has an impact … by making people believe that such killings are justified when it comes to the state’s arch-enemy.”

Understanding India-Canada Relations

Check out 3 more stories