India and Canada have enjoyed warm ties but now they seem to be at loggerheads
In international diplomacy, misgivings, misunderstandings, upmanship and disputes are the most common pitfalls. Therefore, it is essential to sift through the perceived facts and allegations to arrive at a balanced understanding and perspective. The recent standoff between India and Canada following the killing of Khalistan sympathiser Hardeep Singh Nijjar has raised concerns. While Canada has voiced its opinion about India's alleged and implicit role in the incident, India has brushed aside the allegation. It is, therefore, crucial to examine the situation from all angles before reaching any conclusion. Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a vociferous pro-Khalistan supporter, was gunned down on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. As he was indeed on India’s most wanted list, Canada alleges that Nijjar was targeted and eliminated by Indian security forces. As it goes about demanding an explanation from the Indian Government, India has officially denied any involvement in the killing. For its part, and as history can vouch, India has been the target of numerous terrorist attacks over the years, resulting in the loss of countless innocent lives. Given this context, India has consistently demonstrated its commitment to combating terrorism both within its borders and beyond by legal means. Besides, India has never had a policy of eliminating such wayward elements by sending assassination squads for the person in its crosshairs. It has always firmly and openly believed in following the legitimate judicial process and, in numerous cases, sought extradition of such characters. India has consistently called for united efforts to combat global terrorism and has been a significant contributor to international counterterrorism initiatives. In the case of the alleged murder of Nijjar, India has emphasised the importance of credible intelligence sharing.
Accusations alone are not sufficient ground to indict a country for any perceived wrongdoing. In any legal or diplomatic context, the burden of proof lies with the accuser. Canada's allegations regarding India's involvement in Nijjar's killing must be substantiated with concrete evidence before any punitive measures can be sought or taken. Otherwise, it is a clear case of jumping the gun. It is also worth noting that India has expressed its willingness to cooperate fully with Canada in any investigation into the incident. This willingness to engage in a transparent and open process speaks volumes about India's commitment to resolving this issue through diplomatic means. Both India and Canada have shown their intent to engage in diplomatic dialogue to address the concerns surrounding the Canadian national's killing. Unfortunately, the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat by Canada, a kneejerk move reciprocated swiftly by India, has only made things worse between the countries. As the diplomatic process unfolds, it is essential for all parties involved to maintain open lines of communication, adhere to international norms and agreements, and prioritise the fight against terrorism.