India has reacted with anger and defiance to the allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that India had a role in the assassination of a Canadian Sikh leader in Vancouver last week. Trudeau said there were “credible allegations” that agents linked to the Indian government had been involved in the killing of Baldev Singh, a prominent activist for the Khalistani movement, which seeks an independent Sikh homeland in India’s Punjab region.
A mood of obstinance has echoed across Indian media and politics, with news anchors, political commentators and even opposition politicians furiously condemning Canada and Trudeau. Some have made personal attacks on the Canadian prime minister, such as a former Indian ambassador who alleged that Trudeau’s plane was grounded in India due to drugs being found on board.
The allegations have also sparked concern for the safety and rights of India’s Sikh community, which has faced discrimination and violence in the past. Some fear that the accusations could fuel more hostility and suspicion towards Sikhs in India, especially as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has been accused of stoking communal tensions and cracking down on dissent.
The Khalistani movement, which reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, has largely lost support among Sikhs in India and abroad, but some still advocate for a separate state. Canada has a large Sikh diaspora, some of whom are sympathetic to the Khalistani cause.
The allegations have also strained the diplomatic relations between India and Canada, which have been improving in recent years.