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Why Indo-Canada Relations Soured?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s farewell at Delhi Airport on Tuesday, two days after every other VIP had left after the G20 summit, may rank high on the embarrassment list, not for any fault of his. His aircraft had developed a snag and it took time to fix. Though the Indian government offered him Air India One to fly back, Trudeau refused and decided to wait for his aircraft to get airborne.

But for Trudeau, who has presided over a downturn in relations with India because of what is seen as free rein given to Khalistani elements in his country, every extra day here would have been uncomfortable more so since the Indian readout of his talks with Prime Minister Modi was toughly worded.

The Prime Minister conveyed strong concern about continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada. They are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises and threatening the Indian community in Canada and places of worship

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Indian diplomats who have served in Canada, say Ottawa has failed to manage the Khalistanis there and the reason could be the political support given by the pro-Khalistani New Democratic Party of Jagmeet Singh to the Trudeau government

What would have irritated the South Block was Trudeau’s broad hints that India was meddling in Canada’s internal affairs, an accusation India has denied, rather India believes the Canadian government has been lenient in tackling Khalistani groups.

Where do Ottawa and Delhi go now? It’s pretty clear that Trudeau after nine years in power may be shown the door by his party. India can only hope that the new incumbent, whoever he or she is, will be more willing to crack down on the Khalistanis in Canada and give priority to the India relationship.