Indian flag seen flying at the High Commission of India in Ottawa, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (AP)
In suspending visa services to Canadians wishing to visit, India may have sharply escalated its diplomatic conflict over allegations that Indian agents were behind the assassination of the Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil in June.
The question is whether this is not a knee-jerk reaction as the action seems to have affected more persons of Indian origin as scores of intending guests from Canada to Punjabi weddings in India are being denied entry.
If the Canadian government were to act on a reciprocal basis and deny visa services, it would once again affect Indian travellers more as visitors to Canada would match or outnumber those wishing to come to India.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has doubled down on his seemingly outlandish claim on extra-territorial killing by agents acting on behalf of India. Even though Canada is yet to divulge details about intelligence findings, said to have been buttressed by tip-offs from one among its five allies, it insists on Indian cooperation in a probe that is yet to even fix who the perpetrators may be.
It would be ironic if the United States had passed on intelligence about any such misadventure by Indian agents, because the least one expects is for the country with a historically unmatchable record in extra-terrestrial killings to offer sanctimonious advice.
Wherever the issue may lead as the country stands accused of a hit job, India may do well to direct any retaliatory diplomatic action against the Canadian government rather than stop visa services. For instance, it might have made more sense had India acted to withdraw its invitation to a Canadian delegation led by their deputy Army chief to attend an Indo-Pacific military conclave next week in New Delhi.
India’s ire would have to be directed at Canada where it hurts most during this impasse. It would also do well to share internationally the large amount of evidence it has gathered already about the free plotting in Canada and a few other countries to try and breach Indian sovereignty through the encouragement of fanciful Sikh homeland claims.
Specifically, all countries should be made aware of the large-scale incitement to violence through horrific hate speeches and threats to diplomats and to the Indian diaspora to leave the country that are being delivered freely in Canada now.