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India protests alleged Sikh separatist slogans at event attended by Trudeau

New Delhi summons the Canadian deputy high commissioner after slogans in support of a Sikh homeland were reportedly raised at an event addressed by the Canadian prime minister.


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India has summoned the Canadian deputy high commissioner after separatist slogans in support of a Sikh homeland were allegedly raised at an event addressed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

India’s foreign affairs ministry on Monday said it had conveyed “deep concern and strong protest” at such actions “being allowed to continue unchecked at the event”.

Pakistan Today

 “This illustrates once again the political space that has been given in Canada to separatism, extremism and violence. Their continued expressions not only impact India-Canada relations but also encourage a climate of violence and criminality in Canada to the detriment of its own citizens,” the statement said.

The Canadian foreign ministry told Reuters news agency in a statement that Trudeau “gathered with thousands” in Toronto to mark the occasion of Vaisakhi, a harvest festival celebrated by the people of northern India.

Slogans supporting the rise of a separatist state were raised at the event, according to India’s ANI news agency.

“We will always be there to protect your rights and your freedoms, and we will always defend your community against hatred and discrimination,” ANI quoted Trudeau as saying at the event.

Bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries soured last year after Trudeau said Canada was “actively pursuing credible allegations” that Indian agents were potentially linked to the June 2023 murder of a Sikh leader who was a Canadian citizen.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. Nijjar supported a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state and was designated by India as a “terrorist” in July 2020.

New Delhi has denied any formal government role in Nijjar’s murder.

The Sikh separatist movement was launched by a faction of the community in the late 1970s, triggering a wave of deadly violence that killed thousands of people in the Indian state of Punjab, where Sikhs are in the majority.

While Sikh secessionism has largely died down in India, pro-Khalistan groups have remained active internationally.

Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside India’s Punjab and the North American country has been the site of many allegedly separatist demonstrations that have irked India.

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India's River Diversion Plan and South Asia's Waters

More dams are to come, as India’s need to power its economy means it is quietly spending billions on hydropower in Kashmir. The Senate report totted up 33 hydro projects in the border area with Pakistan. The state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, says dams will add an extra 3,000MW to the grid in the next eight years alone. Some analysts in Srinagar talk of over 60 dam projects, large and small, now on the books. (This special report has appeared in the Bulletin on Current Affairs - February 2012, you may have to Buy the print edition to read full story)

More in the Edition:

South Asia's Water - a growing rivalry

Indian, Pakistani & Chinese Border Disputes

India's River Diversion Plan: Its impact on Bangladesh

Water Crisis can Trigger nuclear war in South Asia

Reclaimed Water - the Western Experience

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