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'Political space for extremism': India on Canada's 'moment of silence' for Khalistani Hardeep Singh Nijjar

Canada's House of Commons held a 'moment of silence' on Tuesday as MPs stood in honour of Khalistani terrorist Nijjar, who was killed last year. India has repeatedly highlighted Canada giving space to pro-Khalistani elements operating from Canadian soil with impunity.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Published on: June 22, 2024 12:59 IST
Canadian Parliament honours Hardeep Singh Nijjar
Image Source : X Canada's Parliament officially observed a moment of silence as MPs stood for Hardeep Singh Nijjar,

New Delhi: The Canadian Parliament recently observed a "moment of silence" on the one-year anniversary marking the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a move that will most likely to further sour relations between India and Canada. India has reiterated its stance that Canada has been giving political space to extremists and those advocating violence.

"Regarding the developments concerning Canadian parliament, we would like to state that we oppose any moves giving political space to extremism and those advocating violence," said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal on Friday. The move came despite a seemingly positive interaction between PM Modi and Justin Trudeau at the G7 Summit earlier this month.

Relations between India and Canada after Trudeau publicly accused New Delhi of being involved in the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June last year outside his residence in Surrey, British Columbia. India described the allegations as 'absurd' and 'politically motivated'. India suspended visas for Canadians, while Ottawa recalled 41 diplomats from India. 

The acrimony between India and Canada has delayed discussions on a free-trade deal and threatened Ottawa's plans to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region, where New Delhi's cooperation is critical to efforts to check an increasingly assertive China. Four suspects have been arrested in the case and are undergoing trial.

India's big move to 'moment of silence' for Nijjar

Canada's House of Commons observed a 'moment of silence' for the Khalistani terrorist, who was shot dead by two unidentified men outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18, 2023. A purported video footage of the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was designated a terrorist by the National Investigation Agency in 2020, where the Khalistani separatist was seen shot by armed men.

India has been maintaining that the main issue has been that of Canada giving space to pro-Khalistani elements operating from Canadian soil with impunity. In the last few months, India has been expressing concern over the security of its diplomats in Canada and calling on Ottawa to ensure that they can carry out their responsibilities without fear, given instances of pro-Khalistani elements threatening to harm Indian diplomats.

In response to Canada's latest move, the Indian Consulate General in Vancouver announced a memorial service to pay tribute to the bombing of Air India Kanishka flight in which at least 329 passengers were killed. "India stands at the forefront of countering the menace of terrorism and works closely with all nations to tackle this global threat. 23 June 2024 marks the 39th Anniversary of the cowardly terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182 (Kanishka), in which 329 innocent victims, including 86 children, lost their lives in one of the most heinous terror-related air disasters in the history of civil aviation," the Consulate General posted on X.

Remembering the disastrous Air India bombing incident, the Indian Consulate General of India in Vancouver has announced to organise a Memorial Service on June 23. It urged the Indian diaspora to join the event in a show of solidarity against terrorism. Notably, Ottawa denied India's accusations of soaring extremism despite rising gang wars in Canada.

Who is Hardeep Singh Nijjar?

Born in Jalandhar, Punjab, Nijjar moved to Canada in 1997 and worked as a plumber. He was married and had two children. His wealth rose suddenly due to his involvement in pro-Khalistan activities. He joined the terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International and went on to establish his own group - Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). He is accused of being proactively involved in recruiting, training, financing and operationalising pro-Khalistan terrorist modules for spreading terror in India.

Nijjar was wanted in several cases, including a blast in 2007 that killed six people in Ludhiana. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a chargesheet in 2022 against the KTF chief over a conspiracy to kill a Hindu priest in Jalandhar. A cash reward of Rs 10 lakhs was declared against Nijjar by the NIA. Nijjar had been accused of killing Ripudaman Singh Malik, the man who was acquitted in the 1985 Air India terrorist bombing case in 2022.

India has repeatedly asked the Canadian authorities to take action against Nijjar for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts in Punjab. After the key Khalistani terrorist was shot dead. a pro-Khalistani poster sparked outrage across India in July by calling India's High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma and Consul General in Toronto Apoorva Srivastava as "killers" of Nijjar. 

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Canada puts Khalistani leaders on no-fly list, court voices 'reasonable grounds' for terror concern

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