Canada in covert talks with India over Nijjar’s killing

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Canada in covert talks with India over Nijjar’s killing

Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | Santosh Mathew

Canada in covert talks with India over Nijjar’s killing

India and Canada share a complex relationship, shaped by historical ties, diaspora influence and geopolitical interests

In the intricate dance of international diplomacy, Canada's intelligence chief, David Vigneault, embarked on clandestine visits to India earlier this year, delving into the shadowy realms of the Khalistani activist's controversial demise. These covert exchanges, veiled in secrecy, unfold against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the two nations, as a parliamentary report unveils India's ranking as the second most significant foreign threat to Canadian democracy, closely trailing behind China. With Prime Minister Trudeau's pledge to confront foreign interference head-on, Canada grapples with safeguarding its democratic integrity amidst the swirling currents of global power struggles.

India and Canada share a complex relationship, shaped by historical ties, diaspora influence, and geopolitical interests. The Indian diaspora in Canada, particularly the Sikh community, has played a significant role in shaping Canadian society and politics. However, issues related to Sikh separatism and human rights in India have often been contentious points in bilateral discussions. Nijjar's assassination has brought these issues to the forefront once again, reigniting debates about the treatment of minorities in India and the extent of Canada's involvement in addressing these concerns. The Indian diaspora in Canada is significant and steadily growing. It's estimated that there are over 2 million people of Indian origin in Canada, making the Indian community one of the largest and most influential ethnic groups in the country. Over the years, the Indian diaspora has made significant contributions to various sectors of Canadian society, including business, politics, academia, and culture. This demographic's influence is a testament to the deep-rooted connections between the two nations.

 Nijjar's assassination has prompted a range of reactions from both Indian and Canadian officials. Canadian officials have condemned the act and called for a thorough investigation, while also reaffirming their commitment to dialogue and cooperation with India. However, the incident has undoubtedly strained relations between the two countries, with potential implications for trade, investment, and strategic partnerships. Some argue that Nijjar's death underscores the need for greater attention to human rights violations in India, while others caution against jumping to conclusions and emphasize the importance of evidence-based investigations.

At the diplomatic level, the fallout from Nijjar's assassination has led to increased scrutiny of Indo-Canadian relations. The alleged involvement of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and a close aide of Ajit Doval in covert operations underscores the complex interplay between intelligence, diplomacy, and geopolitics. As India seeks to assert itself on the world stage, it must navigate these challenges with caution, ensuring that its actions are guided by principles of transparency, accountability, and respect for international law. For Canada, the incident has highlighted the delicate balancing act it must perform in managing its diverse population while upholding democratic values. The Canadian government's response has been measured, focusing on ensuring justice for Nijjar while maintaining diplomatic channels with India. This approach is crucial for preserving the multifaceted relationship that exists between the two countries. While differences may exist on certain issues, there are also areas of common interest where cooperation can flourish.

Moreover, the tragic loss of Jaswinder Singh Nijjar serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding democratic values and protecting the rights of all individuals, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds. This commitment to justice will not only honour Nijjar's legacy but also reinforce the values that both nations espouse. Moving forward, Indo-Canadian relations will likely face challenges as both countries navigate the aftermath of this incident. However, with mutual respect, dialogue, and a commitment to shared values, there is hope that they can emerge stronger and more resilient than before.

 In conclusion, the assassination of Jaswinder Singh Nijjar has cast a spotlight on the intricacies of Indo-Canadian relations, highlighting both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. It is a pivotal moment for both nations to reflect on their shared history, reaffirm their commitment to justice, and work towards a future marked by cooperation and mutual respect. The road ahead may be fraught with difficulties, but with a concerted effort, India and Canada can continue to build a relationship that is both robust and resilient, benefiting not only their citizens but also contributing to global peace and stability. Indo-Canadian relations are like a symphony, where each note, no matter how different, contributes to the harmony of the whole. Let us play our parts with respect, understanding, and a commitment to peace.

(The writer is an associate professor, views are personal)

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