Indians living in Canada warned to exercise 'utmost caution' during diplomatic row

India has rejected Canada's claims that there were 'potential links between agents of the Indian government' and the killing of a Sikh separatist leader

A security officer stands guard outside the Canadian High Commision in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday. Reuters
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India issued an advisory for its nationals and students in Canada on Wednesday, urging them to exercise "utmost caution" amid rising diplomatic tensions after the North American nation accused New Delhi of killing Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The Ministry of External Affairs claims that Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda were being “threatened” and urged its nationals and students to exercise extreme caution.

“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,” the advisory shared by the ministry read.

“Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents.”

The government asked its nationals to register with the Indian High Commission and Consulate Generals, which it said would contact Canadian authorities to “ensure safety and well-being” of the Indian community in Canada.

The advisory comes a day after India rejected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claim that there were “potential links between agents of the Indian government” and expressed “deep concerns” over the Canadian government’s sympathies for Mr Nijjar.

New Delhi shunted out a senior Canadian diplomat hours after Ottawa said it had asked an Indian diplomat to leave the country over his role in the killing.

Indian media claimed that the official was the head of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing in Canada.

Mr Nijjar, 46, was leader of the Khalistan Tiger Force, who was designated as a terrorist by India in 2020. He was shot dead in his vehicle outside a Sikh temple in Surrey in the Canadian province of British Columbia in June.

The Khalistan movement is a secessionist group in the northern state of Punjab where some of the Sikhs sought the creation of a homeland called Khalistan.

The latest advisory was released hours after Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and briefed him over the diplomatic row.

India has accused secessionist groups and leaders based overseas – especially in Canada, Australia and the UK – of funding and supporting Punjab's independence movement.

Many Sikh artists and poets such as Rupi Kaur have been accused of supporting the movement.

Amid a growing row, a ticketing platform has cancelled the upcoming Mumbai tour dates by Canada-based Punjabi singer and rapper Shubhneet Singh, popularly known as Shubh.

Mr Singh has been accused of being a Khalistani sympathiser after he posted a distorted map of India without Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, earlier this year.

He was scheduled to perform in Mumbai from September 23 to 25 but the youth wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party launched a protest against the singer and took down posters promoting his concerts.

BookMyShow cancelled the dates on Wednesday after facing criticism for selling tickets.

Updated: September 20, 2023, 12:06 PM