When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons that his government was looking into ‘credible allegations’ that the Indian government was involved in the killing of a Sikh leader, he said something that could make the matter bigger than just India-Canada relations.
Trudeau started off by saying that he considered the matter to be a violation of Canada’s sovereignty. He then added that he had also raised the matter with United States President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
A spokesman for the UK government said that they were in touch with Canada over the issue although a definite statement could only be made when the investigation was completed.
Aleem Maqbool, who serves as BBC’s religion editor, said that the matter of Sikh’s being a thorny issue for India’s foreign policy has a long history. He said that the Indian government had tried to pressurise the US, UK and Australian governments on the matter of Khalistan protests in their countries. All three countries have a sizable Sikh population.
India has consistently maintained that the Khalistan movement amounts to Sikh ‘extremism’.
However, the Australian government had coolly told the Indians that it could not stop freedom of expression on the Khalistan issue but would look into the claims of Hindu temples being desecrated in India.
The Indian media had recently claimed that British PM Sunak had offered to cooperate with the Indian government over the Sikh issue. However, what will happen to the supposed pledge in light of Trudeau’s statement is not clear.
Biden is a close ally of Trudeau, so he will likely lend an ear to to when the Canadian PM raises a concern.
Trudeau’s framing of the matter as an issue of sovereignty could also be replicated by the other countries, since Sikh leaders are naturalised citizens in many places.