India-Canada : Khalistan Movement


  • The violent Khalistan movement in the 1980s wreaked havoc in Punjab, resulting in India crushing the Khalistan militancy. After the Indian army cleared the Golden Temple of militants, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards in 1984.
  • Anti-Sikh riots followed in Delhi and elsewhere, killing thousands of Sikhs. The next year, Khalistan militants blew up an Air India plane flying from Canada to Mumbai.


What is Canada’s Role?

  • India has often accused Canada of sheltering Sikh separatists.
  • Sikhs in Canada form a voting bloc for Trudeau, so much so that he even attended a Khalsa Day parade organized by a radical Gurudwara, or Sikh temple, in Toronto.
  • To add to the tensions, last month, 16 Canadian gurdwaras announced a “ban” on the entry of Indian elected officials, consular officials, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Shiv Sena members, without any action from the Trudeau government.
  • Another sore was Mr. Trudeau’s insistence on taking along with him the Ministers in his Cabinet accused of sympathising with the Khalistan movement like Mr. Sajjan and Navdeep Singh Bains to Amritsar.
  • Sikhs, numbering less than half a million, form the largest ethnic group among Indian-origin Canadians. All four of Trudeau’s Indian-origin ministers are Sikh


What does New Delhi want?

  • New Delhi wants Trudeau to publicly distance himself from Sikh separatists.


Canada’s View

  • Canada’s position is that it cannot curtail the right to freedom of speech and expression of its Sikh citizens
  • However, in a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Trudeau has affirmed that Canada does not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere.



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