Canada in stand off with India ++ USA, UK, Australia

A tangled web of claims and counter-claims has erupted in a surprising diplomatic clash between Canada and India over the murder in British Columbia in June of a Sikh separatist leader, wanted as a terrorist in India. Justin Trudeau has pointed a finger at Narendra Modi’s government as being behind the assassination.

  Canada’s support for Sikh secessionists – who want a homeland in the disputed Punjab region which was cut in half during the bodged partition of 1947 – goes back to Pierre Trudeau who refused to hand over a Sikh militant to India, who then went on  to be responsible for the Air India bomb on 23 June 1985 which killed 329 people.

 Canada is home to the largest Sikh population outside India, with about 770,000 people. Open incitement to violence against Indians has flourished in recent years with extremists, parading floats celebrating the assassination of former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, who was killed by Sikh extremists. Trudeau says he respects freedom of expression and other constitutional rights and the rule of law.

  Given that India is Canada’s 10th-biggest trading partner in 2022 and growing;  and Canada’s top source of migrants practical politics will take over at some point.

  What is of interest is that the Canada/India relationship chart while superficially friendly at one level is also deeply suspicious and aggravated. When the 1985 Air India bomb exploded tr Pluto in early Scorpio was square the composite Mars. And that will repeat in 2024/2025 with tr Pluto in Aquarius opposition the Mars – with, as before, a high-tension run up as tr Pluto opposes the composite Sun this year. Relations won’t get back to anything resembling equanimity until 2026 – and will worsen before that happens.

Add On: With more emerging about Sikh supporters of the separatist movement abroad being targeted, it will put Western countries in a bind. India is becoming one of America’s most important foreign partners as a bulwark against China, with a raft of new deals on defence, high-tech manufacturing, artificial intelligence. The UK also is in advanced stages of negotiating one of its biggest post-Brexit free trade agreements with New Delhi. France is now India’s second-largest arms supplier and India is a member of the Quad strategic security initiative, which also includes Australia, the US, and Japan.

  If there is evidence of Delhi-backed assassinations abroad, there will be diplomatic and commercial challenges ahead.

  The USA/India relationship chart is faltering through this October to mid November and again in early 2024 with a disappointing tr Neptune square the composite Mars. And under immense pressure from this year through till 2026 with tr Pluto trine the composite Neptune and opposition the Mercury Sun and then square Pluto. There may well be a reset in relations but perhaps not the one that was first mooted.

  The UK relationship chart with India is confused through late this year with tr Pluto square the composite Neptune and then undergoing a total turnaround under pressure with tr Pluto square the composite Sun in 2023/24.  Australia ditto.

  Change was always expected of the positive variety but this looks more aggravated.  The India chart always hinted that financial worries would mount with tr Neptune square the 2nd house Uranus Mars this year and worsening in 2025/26.

A diplomatic minefield.

22 thoughts on “Canada in stand off with India ++ USA, UK, Australia

  1. It’s true; the U.S. has been trying desperately for decades to make inroads with India in order counteract China’s growing influence on the global economy.

    However, put success has been minimal. India has always been concerned about our close working relationship with Pakistan (U.S.-Pakistan ties strengthened during the Richard Nixon Era) and, in return, the U.S. has always been concerned about India’s extremely close ties with the Former Soviet Union and the current Russian Federation.

    People I’ve spoken to from India (some of whom are still living there) told me that many Indian citizens are still living in the “Cold War” era, mentality speaking – many (especially older Indians) still have a romanticized view of Russia and are nostalgic for the old Soviet Union (who they see as an old friend who stood by them during their struggle against the British and Portuguese imperalists). The Soviet Union was also one of the first nations to declare that all of the disputed Kashmir region belonged to India (another issue that endeared India to the Soviets).

    So, it’s not at all surprising that India has kept the United States at an arms length given the decades of geopolitical disagreements between the two nations.

    As for the latest series of events, I do think India is being a bit hypocritical. India, when criticized, often plays the “Western imperialist” victimhood card (which is really getting old; they’ve been a sovereign state for almost 80 years now)…yet India, to some extent, also has its own history of colonialism and imperialism.

    The Punjab region is a perfect example. Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Assam are all states and regions that were incorporated into India by controversial means and there are many ethnic Tamils, Naga tribes, Mizo tribes, and ethnic Assamese who would prefer self-determination and have grievances with the government of India. Many of the “Adivasi” tribes (Indigenous peoples) who collectively number 100 million people have expressed feelings of resentment for having little autonomy and little say in their own affairs.

    India is home to over 780 languages and 3,000 ethnic groups, tribes, and scheduled Castes. I imagine not all of them enjoy living in a unified India.

  2. Another few points to consider:

    Trudeau’s minority government relies entirely on Jagmeet Singh for a supply/service agreement in parliament.

    Jagmeet’s Indian visa was denied by Indian Sikh Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2013 because of concern that has maintained ties with various sections of Khalistani extremists. Plenty of video of JS at conferences in UK and California sharing the podium with some unsavoury characters in support of Khalistan. He doesn’t regret speaking at those rallies and maintains that he would go again in the future.

    The last time Trudeau was in India (the one with so many costume changes) his party included Jaspal Atwal, who was imprisoned for an assassination attempt of an Indian state cabinet minister visiting Vancouver Island in 1986.

    As India/Canada tensions rise, authorities have finally asked the radical, Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara (temple) to immediately remove their billboard in Surrey, British Columbia. It glorified Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar + asked for the assassination of three Indian High commission officials.

    I’m no scholar on the subject but for a deep dive have a look at respected journalist Terry Milewski’s twitter. He wrote the book on this subject: “Blood for Blood – Fifty Years of the Global Khalistan Project”

  3. This is interesting from Brahma Chellany an ex diplomat: “Facing heat even in Canada for his evidence-free India allegation, Trudeau now resorts to what he has done in the past — plant media stories. Through such media leaks, Ottawa acknowledges that its allegation is based not on any credible evidence gathered by police but on purported inputs from the murky world of espionage by surveilling Indian diplomats.

    In the murky world of espionage, the spy games center on geopolitics, with truth being the major casualty. Insupportable claims and even disinformation often pass off as “intelligence.”

    In the tit-for-tat geopolitical game between Canada and India, what’s coming next? India leaking “intelligence” to the media about Trudeau funding the Sikh terrorists his government is shielding?”

  4. Three points:

    1) India’s denials of having agents kill a Sikh separatist agitator in Canada, followed by punative tactics such as preventing Canadian tourists from visiting India aren’t the hallmarks of an innocent government so this casts a shadow on the increasingly authoritarian Modi. “The Economist” notes that “If India ordered a murder in Canada, there must be consequences/ Western countries have for too long acquiesced to the Indian government’s abuses… India has long been accused of assassinating militants and dissidents in its own region; never previously in the friendly and orderly West.”

    2) It is incorrect to suggest that Canada supports Sikh separatism! My country has struggled for too many decades with Quebec separatism to want to support similar divisiveness in another country.

    3) It is frustrating and annoying for many Canadians that the tiny portion of the country’s population who are Khalistani separatists have had such a negative impact on our country — starting with the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history which murdered 329 people.

    As of the 2021 census, Canada is home to nearly 1.4 million people of Indian ethnic or cultural origin out of a total population of 40 million (as of 2023). The 770,000 people who reported their religion as Sikhism form just 2% of Canada’s population (and are generally known as hard-working, good citizens.)

    Unfortunately, a growing minority of that 2% support Sikh separatism. They are the reason that Canada has been shut out of the “Quad” alliance of the U.S., India, Japan and Australia — to the detriment of our national security! — and now our trade will be impacted with this rising economic power.

    Further unfortunately, federal Conservative and especially Liberal politicians like Justin Trudeau have divisively and irresponsibly pandered to the Sikh/Indo-Canadian community for vote-buying with “generous”, disproportionately favouring immigration policies.

    Since unfairness encourages resentment, I once said to a whip-smart orthodox Sikh man in his 20s: “I’m concerned for the cause of social harmony when politicians target ethnic communities for votes”. He responded with criticisms of his own religious group and as well as immigration by nepotism allowed by Canada’s limitless Family Class sponsorship policies: “Oh, I know these people (in the community). They’ve corrupted (then-prime minister) Stephen Harper… They’re wealthy in their own country and are used to having their own way… with relatives sponsoring relatives sponsoring relatives.”

    Good Canadian Sikhs like this man are the ultimate answer to Canada’s mess with India and to citizens who think it’s acceptable to import old country conflicts to their current home — to the detriment of their current home.

    • I appreciate your comments and share your concerns about foreign conflicts being brought to our country; however, I don’t understand when you write that the Indian actions “are not the hallmark of an innocent government”: I am no cheerleader for any foreign government, including Mr. Modi’s, but as a lawyer I do understand the reactions of anyone who has been falsely accused and publicly defamed with that accusation. If someone accused you of anything, especially without offering you any proof, wouldn’t your first reaction be to deny it? It is particularly those who believe they are innocent who deny wrongdoing. It is human nature. And since there is generally no court of law to which States can protest defamation or false accusations by other States, the use of non-force retaliatory measures is common practice and is perfectly legal in international relations. Suspending the processing of visas for tourists is much less escalatory than recalling a High Commissioner or imposing economic sanctions.The Indian government has acted reasonably, whereas Prime Minister Trudeau has self-righteously made accusations without offering proof to the accused and then expects the latter’s cooperation in finding out the truth. Just a thought here, but if all governments acted according to how the Golden Rule applies at the individual level, the world would see much fewer conflicts!

  5. The vast majority of murders of extremist Sikhs are being committed by other Sikhs.
    Some of that violence is for the purpose of intimidating those who seek to expose political radicalism within the community: two high-profile examples are Ujjal Dosanjh, who was brutally assaulted and Tara Singh Hayer, who was crippled and then murdered. A conspiracy – or coercion – of silence within the community has resulted in the perpetrators of these acts not being brought to justice to date.
    The other reason for that violence is for the purpose of settling personal scores. Anyone who lives in Vancouver knows – but is not allowed to talk about it – that the leaders of most of the gangs involved in drugs and human trafficking in this city are of Sikh origin. Only a portion of those proceeds of crime is funnelled to fund Khalistani activities; the rest of the money has made people like the late Mr. Nijjar very rich – which earned him a number of enemies.
    For those posters above who are not intimately familiar or culturally connected with the community, I recommend the following article:

  6. It is definite now that relations between these two countries cannot become normal under Trudeau as PM.

    “…Relations won’t get back to anything resembling equanimity until 2026 – and will worsen before that happens.”

    Looks like Trudeau isn’t going to win the next GE in 2025 then.

  7. Most kind, Nicole! I was expecting hate mail, lol! I enjoy this site for the same reason, that I always learn something from either Marjorie or her readers. I hope I have conveyed how complex the issues ares. I also enjoy your comments on American politics. Keep it up and thanks again!

  8. I just wanted to add some perspective as one can come away from this post thinking that Canada is a hotbed of terrorism which is tolerated by Canadians. In fact, the Sikh community here is divided in its support for a Sikh homeland, Khalistan, and only a minority of those who support it also support violence in aid of the cause. Over the years, there have been examples of Sikh parades and fundraisers in Canada that have used images to glorify violence and those have been called out by Canadians including by members of the Sikh community and in some cases parade permits have been revoked. The Sikh community in Canada dates back to the late 1800s and is well integrated in Canadian society with many Sikhs acting in positions of authority in government and the military including Jasmeet Singh who is currently leader of the federal NDP, Harjit Sajjan who is a former Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and currently President of the Privy Council and federal minister of emergency preparedness, and Ujjal Dosangh who served in the federal cabinet and was briefly premier in British Columbia. I think it’s important to mention this to prevent stereotyping and backlash against members of our Sikh community many of whom are our friends, neighbours, and co-workers.

    The Air India bombing was Canada’s worst terrorist incident and an inquiry found many mistakes were made by our intelligence and policing services which hopefully have been learned from. But it was perpetrated by a small number of conspirators and again, the entire community’s reputation should not be tarnished. The handling of Sikh immigration by the Canadian government should be seen in a historical context as in 2016 it apologized for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident which saw a ship full of several hundred Sikhs turned back to India out of sheer racism and once back in India twenty of its passengers were killed in a riot and many others were jailed. The Canadian government undoubtedly does not want to make the same mistake again and it should be noted that opposition leaders of all parties applauded the apology–not just the Liberals who are being accused of courting Sikh votes.

    And while not condoning violence, I think it’s important to note that Sikh calls for a homeland stem from the feeling that they are second class citizens in India and those feelings were further fuelled by the 1984 attack by Indian authorities on the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhism, when at least 500 Sikhs were killed. Within months anti-Sikh pogroms killed anywhere from 2000 to 10,000 Sikhs in India many of them in a horrible and barbaric manner with the government for the most part turning a blind eye. Of course, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation for having ordered the attack on the temple which was aimed at removing a militant Sikh leader.

    So while not wanting to come across as an apologist for those who commit or espouse violence because I do not condone violence in any way, shape, or form, I do think we need some historical context about how we got to where we are and I also want to ensure that, as Cathy said, people realize it is a minority of Sikhs in Canada who espouse violence against India. The executed man was in the sights of our intelligence community who warned him that he was a target so I like to think that if he was involved in terrorist rather than legitimate political activities that he would have been caught and charged.

    Justin Trudeau had little to gain and a lot to lose by confronting India but there are reports the evidence for an extrajudicial killing was about to be reported on in the news media and he wanted to get out ahead of it. Also, he has been accused of not doing enough about foreign interference by China and so he undoubtedly didn’t want to have the same accusations levelled against him regarding India.

    By the way, to inject a little astrology, the man who was killed in June, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was born on October 11th so his Sun between 17° to 18° Libra catches the October 14th solar eclipse at 21°07′ Libra. And the eclipse hits Trudeau’s Moon-Uranus opposition from 17°57′ Libra to 17°17′ Aries and falls on the cusp of Canada’s 7th house of foreign relations at 17°54′ Libra. The eclipse Mercury at 17°10′ Libra hits these points even more closely. The eclipse is about 75% visible from the Vancouver area where Nijjar was gunned down and home to a large Sikh community.

    • Thank you, Laurien, for the thoughtful history and explanation of the background. Informed readers and commenters like you are another reason I love this site, in addition to Marjorie’s excellent analysis. I always learn something new when I come here.

      • 1 sided n openly crying over Sikhs handling by india while hiding air india bombing by a Sikh n killing of an Indian PM in her home by Sikhs …that isn’t excellent analysis but a terrorist using foreigners as shield to attack innocents by riots then using it as cause for khalistan n breaking up of a country as suche njoy immunity n no harm while become greedy leaders of new country while innocents keep getting used as guinea pigs for new causes

    • Some additional facts:
      Indian security forces surrounded the Golden Temple and eventually launched an attack to flush out terrorist leaders who were holed up there. In retaliation of this military operation, Indira Gandhi – Indian prime minister who sanctioned the military operation – and General Arun Vaidya – who led the military operation – were assassinated in separate incidents; the latter was shot post-retirement in Pune while travelling with his wife and bodyguard, both of whom sustained grievous bullet injuries.
      The anti-Sikh pogrom took place after assassination of Indira Gandhi – not after ‘Operation Blue Star’ as it was called. Though her son Rajiv Gandhi initially appeared to condone it, court cases were conducted against ringleaders. Incidentally, the current BJP government has always held the Congress Party responsible for these killings and has not been shy about saying so.
      Those accused of assassinating Indira Gandhi and Gen. Vaidya respectively were accorded full protection of law in India even during the immediate aftermath of the assassinations. The cases against them wound up through multiple levels of Indian judiciary before they were formally held to account for these crimes many years later. Similar protection of law was offered to the lone assassin who survived the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai. This only underlines India’s own credentials as a country upholding rule of law.
      I remember reading recollections of the public defender (similar to legal aid in UK) who represented Gen. Vaidya’s assassin in court – the lady went on to be a High Court Justice in Mumbai.
      The Sikh community has been well-integrated in India. We have had a Sikh president – Giani Zail Singh – who was head of state during both the assassinations mentioned above and of course, Manmohan Singh who was the Finance Minister and architect of India’s liberalisation programme in 1991-1996 and served 2 terms as the Prime Minister of India. The Sikh community is at the forefront of business and military – there are special Sikh battalions.
      In many instances, Indians find that its diaspora – which might have left the country at different points in time – hold onto traditions, world views, grudges and attitudes prevailing at the time of their emigration and act on the same in their host countries. Their views and actions do not necessarily represent views of their communities/ compatriots back in India today. E.g. non-resident Indians are culturally far more conservative and supporters of right-wing parties like the BJP; a few Sikhs who emigrated 40-50 years ago to the UK or Canada hold onto and pass on Khalistani views.
      In India today, Khalistan movement is recalled mainly as a memory of a bad times of 1980s with the state well-integrated into national discourse.
      If India were to at all engage in the game of conducting political assassinations in foreign countries for political gains back home, arguably there are targets with far better name recall. The person widely held responsible for terrorist attacks in Mumbai in the 1990’s has been holed up first in Dubai and then in Pakistan. If Indian politicians were looking for ‘wag the dog’ effect, he would be seen as a better target than some unknown in Canada.

      • Thanks for adding this which includes a present-day Indian perspective. I found it very enlightening. I guess now we just sit back and wait for the Canadian government to produce the evidence. Hopefully the truth will out.

      • I remember the 80’s terrorism in the Indian state of Punjab. On one occasion my father had to visit Punjab for a work. As a Hindu he was advised to disguise as Sikh (wear Turban) or his life could be under threat. He followed the advise, but we were very tense at home while he was on that trip.

  9. In the last few hours, India has suspended processing visas for Canadians.

    And Twitter suggests (not confirmed) that another Sikh person, designated a terrorist by India, has been shot dead in Winnipeg in the last few hours.

    Ironic, given the large Indian diaspora in Canada.

    • Yes, I read that too on Twitter plus in some Indian news media about the “gang related killing” of another Khalistani leader in Canada yesterday.

      The ban on visa to Canadian citizens wouldn’t affect most Canadians of Indian origin as India offers them OCI (Overseas citizenship to Indian) which is kind of dual citizenship.

  10. Thanks for looking into this, Marjorie, and adding information I didn’t know! Although you’ve now make me afraid that the wretched, violent Khalistanis — the bad minority of Sikhs in Canada — will once again strike their host country with a terrorist attack! Thanks, Trudeau and Jr.!

    • Not really …I just heard Canadian media saying clearly even jagmeet singh is now no longer using his khalistan badge publicly n rather it has exposed khalistanis in hiding there who r n were on Interpol tagged as branded terrorist but also if Trudeau doesn’t come up with evidence the way he is on backtrack after diplomatic escalations…it would give india the voice in world n that’s bad news for terrorists globally ..meanwhile vis a vis using india vs China to save face in coming up public i quorum when world is grouping against China n using india as a shield…it’s a self defeating move for mere donations for elections for Trudeau…like his dad…

      Orr would agree that many things r happening to him like his dad ..from divorce to now khalistani Sikh n anti India stance

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