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Indo-Canadian Conflict

India and Canada are two of the most highly respected and diverse cultures of our world, from the French culture that flows through Montreal to the flood of festivals in Mumbai, these two cultures and their interactions greatly affect our global economy. However, almost a month ago, the years of carefully crafted diplomatic relations between the two came crashing down. On the 18th of September, a baseless accusation from the Canadian president, Justin Trudeau threatened the credibility of our governing body by proposing that we orchestrated the death of a Canadian citizen due to his pro-khalistan stance and the fact that he was proclaimed a terrorist in 2020. 

To understand this accusation, the prominence of the Khalistan movement comes into context. The Khalistan movement is a separation campaign held by many sikh citizens after the India-Pakistan partition. They bargain for Punjab to be an individual state with a different governing body due to religious differences. Past events have painted the Indian government as against this movement, and though we have made strides to reduce the separation, this suggestion went beyond anything civil.

"As I said on Monday, there are credible reasons to believe that agents of the government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil," Trudeau said, and added that by coming forward, he is standing up for the "rules-based international order that we believe in". These accusations were unwarranted and “absurd” according to a statement by the Indian government, and it is important to note Canada has the largest Sikh population besides India. India has accused Canada of sheltering “extremists and terrorists” who “continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” This can be justified when it is taken into account that "Pro-Khalistan Sikhs have always been loyal to Canada. They have always sided with Canada and they have always upheld the laws and the Constitution," said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, chief of the banned Khalistani separatist movement.

However, this was taken to a larger scale when Trudeau began trying to convince allies like the US and Australia, that the Indian government conspired and manipulated the assassination for political reasons. When his allies made no statement, he made one of his own by firing a senior Indian diplomat in Canada, tying him to the murder. In retaliation, Indian president Narendra Modi fired a high-level Canadian official and asked him to leave the country within five days. After this event, Trudeau came to India for an important G20 meeting and ended by having a heated discussion with Modi, presenting his evidence. All we know about the matter is that it ended with India releasing a statement rejecting the claims completely. A frustrated Trudeau flew back to Canada almost two days late after a plane malfunction and refusal to accept an Indian-offered plane.

As a conclusion to the longtime diplomacy and a nod to the tension between them,  BLS International, a third-party service provider acting on behalf of the Indian government, said visa services had been suspended in its Canadian offices with immediate effect. This is also a major blow to Canadian educational institutions, which rely heavily on international students―almost 40 percent are from India. A shock to students and parents alike, the suspension of visas between the two could cause further problems in the future for both countries. “We have seen Canadian diplomatic interference in our internal affairs, this is a factor that’s been taken into account for seeking parity in strength and rank equivalence [...] in our mutual diplomatic presence,” said a high-ranking Indian official. While Canada has not yet reciprocated the visa ban, they assure the world it is a matter of utmost importance and seriousness that both parties act with transparency to solve this problem.

-Ira Gandhi 

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