Tensions Rise Between Canada and India Over Sikh Independence Movement

Tensions Rise Between Canada and India Over Sikh Independence Movement

Tensions between Canada and India have escalated due to their differing views on the Sikh independence movement, also known as Khalistan. Canada has been accused by India of supporting the movement, which is banned in India but has garnered support among the Sikh diaspora. The recent conflict between the two countries includes diplomatic expulsions and allegations of Indian government involvement in the assassination of a Sikh activist on Canadian soil.

The Khalistan movement originated as a Sikh independence movement in India and eventually became a violent armed insurgency in the 1970s and 1980s. The insurgency, centered in the northern state of Punjab where Sikhs are the majority, lasted for over a decade and resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including Sikh leaders. Many Sikh youths were killed during police operations, often in detention or staged gunfights.

In 1984, Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhism, in an attempt to oust separatist militants who had sought refuge there. The operation resulted in the deaths of approximately 400 people, although Sikh groups claim that the number was much higher. Following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards, widespread anti-Sikh riots took place, leading to further violence and deaths.

While there is currently no active insurgency in Punjab, the Khalistan movement continues to have some supporters both in India and among the Sikh diaspora. The Indian government has been vigilant in monitoring and apprehending Sikh separatist leaders. In recent years, there have been instances of protests and acts of vandalism by Khalistan supporters in countries such as the UK and Canada.

India has urged countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK to take legal action against Sikh activists and has actively raised concerns about the movement with the respective governments. India accuses Khalistan supporters in Canada of vandalizing Hindu temples and attacking the offices of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa during protests.

It is essential to understand the complexities of the Khalistan movement and the differing perspectives held by India and countries with Sikh populations. The tensions between Canada and India over their differing viewpoints on this issue underscore the ongoing challenges in addressing the aspirations of the Sikh community for autonomy and sovereignty while also ensuring the integrity and unity of the Indian nation.


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