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Canada’s Sikhs Grateful, and Afraid, After Trudeau’s India Allegations

OTTAWA — Canadian Sikhs are grateful to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for giving voice to their fears and standing up to India at the risk of a severe backlash from New Delhi, which he said could be linked to the killing of a Sikh separatist leader.

The Indian government considered Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who was shot to death in June in British Columbia, a terrorist because of his advocacy for Khalistan, an independent Sikh state.

India forcefully denied its involvement in Nijjar’s slaying, which took place in the parking lot of a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C. But Canadian Sikhs are unconvinced, and the minority who are active proponents of Khalistan are afraid.

“There’s a lot of fear,” said Sentokh Singh, who was among the small group who protested in front of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa this week. “That’s why we are here today.”

Both countries expelled diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation after Trudeau’s bombshell announcement last week, but India has gone further, issuing a travel warning and halting visa issuance to Canadians.

Trudeau’s move risks derailing a strategic economic and political shift many Western countries are making toward India to counter China. It also distracted attention from his push to address cost-of-living concerns, which have weighed heavily on his popularity in opinion polls.

Canada is home to about 770,000 Sikhs, the highest population outside the northern Indian state of Punjab, and the Indian government has for decades expressed its displeasure with some community members’ outspoken support for Khalistan.

Source : VOA News