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MEA Asks Indians in Canada To ‘Exercise Caution’: Latest on Diplomatic Tensions

Relations between the two Commonwealth nations have hit an all-time low.

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After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that the Indian government was behind the killing of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil leading to a diplomatic storm, New Delhi has issued an advisory for Indian nationals and students in Canada.

​"In view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those contemplating travel are urged to exercise utmost caution. Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda. Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents," read the MEA advisory dated 20 September.

Addressing the House of Commons, Trudeau said that Canada's security agencies were investigating "potential links" between agents of the Indian government and the alleged assassination of Nijjar based on "credible allegations."

Both Canada and India had expelled each other's top envoys from their respective countries.

This is possibly the first time that a Western democracy has publicly accused India of playing a role in violence outside its jurisdiction. As relations between the two Commonwealth nations hit an all-time low, here are all the top developments of the latest geopolitical crisis.
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Tit-for-tat: Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said that Indian diplomat Pavan Kumar Rai had been expelled. He is a 1997 batch Punjab cadre IPS officer, and had been posted as a minister in the Indian mission in Ottawa, Canada.

  • In response, the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned Canada's High Commissioner to India Cameron Mackay and informed him that Olivier Sylvestere was to leave India within the next five days. Sylvestere is reportedly a high-ranking intelligence officer in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and top diplomat in India.

Trudeau briefs leaders: After his address, Trudeau briefed leaders of Canada's allies such as US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and French President Emmanuel Macron, CBC News reported citing sources.

US White House statement: Reacting to Trudeau's allegations against India, the US said that it was "deeply concerned." "We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice," White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson was quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Australia similarly responds: The Australian government said that it was “deeply concerned” by the claims made by Canada and asserted that “all countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law."

  • "I don’t talk about Five Eyes intelligence at a press conference, funnily enough, that’s why it’s called intelligence, because we don’t speculate on what the intelligence is,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

  • Five Eyes is an intelligence-sharing agreement between Australia, Canada, the US, the UK, and New Zealand.

What the UK said: "All countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law. We are in regular contact with our Canadian partners about serious allegations raised in the Canadian Parliament. Important that Canada’s investigation runs its course and the perpetrators brought to justice," tweeted the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

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Nijjar's son speaks out: 21-year-old Balraj Singh Nijjar, the son of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, told CBC News that "it was just a matter of time for when the truth would come out [...] When we heard the news today, it was a sense of relief that it's finally coming to the public eyes."

  • "Hopefully, you can take this a step further and get specific individuals [...] If you place sanctions, whatever the next steps are, we're waiting as a family to see what it is," the eldest son of the pro-Khalistan leader said.

Canadian Police's update: The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team that is probing the murder of Nijjar told CBC News, "This remains a priority investigation for [IHIT] and we have and will continue to work closely with our local, provincial and national police agencies and partners in order to advance this investigation."

Indian Opposition leaders close ranks: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, "The Indian National Congress has always believed that our country's fight against terrorism has to be uncompromising, especially when terrorism threatens India's sovereignty, unity and integrity. Our country's interests and concerns must be kept paramount at all times."

boAt pulls out from concert: In a statement on Tuesday, electronics brand boAt said that it was withdrawing its sponsorship of Canadian artist Shubh's India tour. He was scheduled to perform at a concert in Mumbai this month. However, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) tore down posters and called for the concert to be cancelled over a controversial social media post by the Punjabi rapper and singer.

Trudeau clarifies: Later on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reportedly clarified that Canada was "not looking to provoke or escalate" matters by suggesting that Indian government agents were linked to the killing of Nijjar. But, "the government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness," Trudeau was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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