India warned its citizens to “exercise utmost caution” in Canada, deepening the diplomatic rift between both countries after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went public with claims that New Delhi orchestrated the extra-judicial slaying of a Sikh separatist in Canada, Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
The Canadian government is investigating “credible allegations” that Indian government agents may be connected to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a naturalized Canadian and prominent advocate for an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan. India has slammed and rejected these claims as “baseless” and “absurd,” accusing Canadian leaders of being sympathetic toward anti-India causes.
“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,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement Wednesday.
“Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda,” the ministry added. “Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents.”
Given the close relationship Canada maintains with the US, this escalating bilateral crisis could threaten to derail the US courtship of India as a strategic partner in a broader Indo-Pacific alliance aimed at “de-risking” a reliance on China by realigning supply chains and restricting Chinese access to strategic technology.