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What to know concerning the Sikh motion on the heart of the tensions between India and Canada

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NEW DELHI — Tensions between Canada and India have reached new heights with dueling diplomatic expulsions and an allegation of Indian authorities involvement within the killing of a Sikh activist on Canadian soil.

The row facilities across the Sikh independence, or Khalistan, motion. India has repeatedly accused Canada of supporting the motion, which is banned in India however has help among the many Sikh diaspora.

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Parliament described what he referred to as credible allegations that India was related to the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. The Indian authorities denied any hand in Nijjar’s killing whereas additionally saying Canada was making an attempt to shift the main target from Khalistan activists there.

Listed below are some particulars concerning the difficulty:

The Sikh independence motion started as an armed insurgency within the late Eighties amongst Sikhs demanding a separate homeland. It was centered in northern Punjab state, the place Sikhs are the bulk, although they make up about 1.7% of India’s whole inhabitants.

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The insurgency lasted greater than a decade and was suppressed by an Indian authorities crackdown through which hundreds of individuals had been killed, together with distinguished Sikh leaders.

A whole bunch of Sikh youths additionally had been killed in police operations, a lot of which had been later confirmed in courts to have been staged, based on rights teams.

In 1984, Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, in Amritsar to flush out separatists who had taken refuge there. The operation killed round 400 individuals, based on official figures, however Sikh teams say hundreds had been killed.

The {dead} included Sikh militant chief Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, whom the Indian authorities accused of main the armed insurgency.

On Oct. 31, 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who ordered the raid on the temple, was assassinated by two of her bodyguards, who had been Sikh.

Her loss of life triggered a collection of anti-Sikh riots, through which Hindu mobs went from home to accommodate throughout northern India, notably New Delhi, pulling Sikhs from their properties, hacking many to loss of life and burning others alive.

There isn’t any lively insurgency in Punjab as we speak, however the Khalistan motion nonetheless has some supporters within the state, in addition to within the sizable Sikh diaspora past India. The Indian authorities has warned repeatedly through the years that Sikh separatists had been making an attempt to make a comeback.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities has additionally intensified the pursuit of Sikh separatists and arrested dozens of leaders from varied outfits which can be linked to the motion.

When farmers camped out on the sides of New Delhi to protest controversial agriculture legal guidelines in 2020, Modi’s authorities initially tried to discredit Sikh individuals by calling them “Khalistanis.” Underneath stress, Modi authorities later withdrew the legal guidelines.

Earlier this yr, Indian police arrested a separatist chief who had revived requires Khalistan and stirred fears of violence in Punjab. Amritpal Singh, a 30-year-old preacher, had captured nationwide consideration by his fiery speeches. He stated he drew inspiration from Bhindranwale.

India has been asking nations like Canada, Australia and the U.Ok. to take authorized motion in opposition to Sikh activists, and Modi has personally raised the problem with the nations’ prime ministers. India has notably raised these considerations with Canada, the place Sikhs make up almost 2% of the nation’s inhabitants.

Earlier this yr, Sikh protesters pulled down the Indian flag on the nation’s excessive fee in London and smashed the constructing’s window in a present of anger in opposition to the transfer to arrest Amritpal Singh. Protesters additionally smashed home windows on the Indian consulate In San Francisco and skirmished with embassy staff.

India’s overseas ministry denounced the incidents and summoned the U.Ok.’s deputy excessive commissioner in New Delhi to protest what it referred to as the breach of safety on the embassy in London.

The Indian authorities additionally accused Khalistan supporters in Canada of vandalizing Hindu temples with “anti-India” graffiti and of attacking the places of work of the Indian Excessive Fee in Ottawa throughout a protest in March.

Final yr, Paramjit Singh Panjwar, a Sikh militant chief and head of the Khalistan Commando Pressure, was shot {dead} in Pakistan.

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