In a recent diplomatic concern, India has raised objections to the presence of pro-Khalistani posters in Canada, which feature images and names of prominent Indian diplomats. Canada’s Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, has acknowledged the matter and expressed her view that such promotional materials are “unacceptable.” She has emphasized that the actions of a few individuals should not be seen as a reflection of the broader Canadian community or the country as a whole.
As per reports, the pro-Khalistani posters emerged in connection to a protest march against Indian missions in Toronto and Vancouver. The protest was a response to the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), with the posters insinuating that the Indian government was responsible. The promotional materials prominently displayed the names and photos of the Indian High Commissioner and Consul General.
India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, addressed the issue with the Canadian government. “We will raise the issue of these posters with the concerned government,” he stated at a BJP outreach event, according to PTI. Jaishankar also warned against the “radical, extremist Khalistani ideology,” asserting that it was detrimental to India and its partner nations, including the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia.
Jaishankar reiterated his appeal to partner countries to refuse safe harbor for Khalistani activities. The Minister condemned the Khalistanis’ “radical, extremist thinking,” which he claimed was harmful to both the countries involved and their mutual relations.
Earlier today, Joly tweeted that Canada seriously adheres to the Vienna Conventions concerning the safety of diplomats. She also reassured that Canadian officials were in close communication with their Indian counterparts regarding the unacceptable promotional materials relating to a protest planned for July 8th.
Previously, India had criticized Canada when images emerged on social media showing a tableau in Brampton purportedly celebrating the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Jaishankar had repeatedly accused Canada of leniency toward the Khalistani issue due to “votebank compulsions.”
The Khalistani movement has a dark and tumultuous history, marred by violence, extremism, and separatist sentiments. Essentially an anti-nationalist entity, the Khalistani agenda calls for the creation of an independent Sikh state, Khalistan, to be carved out of India. Some argue that the group operates under the auspices of freedom fighting and political dissidence; however, the reality is far more nefarious. The movement is widely regarded as a terrorist organization, funded by ill-intentioned forces aiming to destabilize India.
The movement traces its roots to the early 1980s, amidst an atmosphere of communal tension and socio-political unrest in the Indian state of Punjab. It has since been associated with numerous acts of terrorism and violence not only within India, but globally. Many of its operations have been aimed at the Indian government, often resulting in large-scale public disturbances and loss of life.
One of the most notorious incidents linked to the Khalistani movement was the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India’s Prime Minister, in 1984. Two of her Sikh bodyguards, allegedly influenced by Khalistani ideology, executed the attack as apparent retribution for Operation Blue Star, a military operation ordered by Gandhi to remove Khalistani militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The movement’s activities also include various sieges and bomb blasts. A prime example was the 1985 Air India bombing, where a Canada-based Khalistani group was believed to be involved in the mid-air explosion of an Air India flight, resulting in the death of 329 people.
In addition to targeted attacks, the Khalistani movement has caused widespread disruption through propaganda campaigns, including the recent incident involving pro-Khalistani posters in Canada. Such actions not only threaten India’s sovereignty but also destabilize diplomatic relations and community harmony in host nations.
Despite the diminishing support for the movement within the Sikh community, there’s still concern about its persistent presence. The group’s ability to propagate its extremist ideology, particularly in countries like Canada, the UK, and the US, calls for concerted global action to curb the influence of such destructive forces.