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  Opinion   Edit  23 Oct 2023  AA Edit | India’s grievance against Trudeau, not Canada

AA Edit | India’s grievance against Trudeau, not Canada

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Oct 23, 2023, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Oct 23, 2023, 12:00 am IST

The Canadian Prime Minister has been accused of espousing the cause of non-resident Indians amounting to toying with fissiparous tendencies

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Darryl Dyck/AP, File)
 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Darryl Dyck/AP, File)

The India-Canada contretemps on overt support to rebellious pro-Khalistan elements and the resultant downsizing of Canadian diplomatic missions in India is not good optics. Fellow democracies cannot be seen squabbling like this at a time when wars are being waged on the very principles democratic notions are founded upon.

The Canadians under Justin Trudeau may have been responding to Indian prompts in withdrawing as many as 41 diplomats, thus severely affecting the passage of people by restricting the issuing of visas. However, the quarrel can be traced to the charge that the Canadian Prime Minister made of India sponsoring a hit job on a Khalistan sympathiser, proscribed as a terrorist by India.

It is well over a month since airing “credible allegations” about a sponsored assassination and Canada has not been forthcoming with any kind of evidence linking India to the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in a British Columbia gurdwara car park. The ensuing events have been so nasty as to have the USA and the UK expressing their unhappiness over India’s squabble with a fellow democracy with which they have deep-rooted ties.

The opportunity is rife for one of the world’s cherished democracies in the USA or the UK to broker peace between two allies, even if it means calling Trudeau’s selfish aim towards protecting his political position. The Canadian Prime Minister has been accused of espousing the cause of non-resident Indians amounting to toying with fissiparous tendencies aimed at threatening the territorial integrity of India by sponsoring the homeland ambitions of a minuscule minority of Sikhs.

India protesting Trudeau’s maverick positions, based on domestic political compulsions, may be entirely justified, more so as Trudeau chose to charge India with murder from the floor of the Canadian Parliament. But, calling for equality in the number of diplomats and forcing the closure of the visa processes in India as well as by Canada in its missions in India will affect mostly Indian citizens with ties to Canada and Canadian Indians.

India’s insistence on a mutually agreed equal number of diplomats in the case of Canada takes no note of the high inequality that exists in the case of many diplomatic missions in India of foreign countries that have many more than the number of Indian diplomats in their countries. What this move does is to hurt Indians more than Canadians and is too much like cutting the nose to spite the face.

The support of US and UK to Canada may be premised on their traditional relationships, but the entire episode is based on a charge that Canada has been unable to substantiate. Intelligence agencies have been known to be wrong on many occasions and there is reason for the USA to examine its own intelligence inputs in the India-Canada fracas over hired hits as they might turn out to be red herrings.

India has taken umbrage only at Trudeau’s allegations and even the Canadian opposition leader has been speaking of how he will set the relationship right if his party comes to power, which might well happen if Trudeau’s current domestic ratings are any indication. It is time India tones down the battle and takes on Canada’s political leader in Trudeau rather than all of Canada.

Tags: canadian prime minister justin trudeau, aa edit