• G20 summit reveals West's loss of influence

One of the great anecdotes at the conclusion of the G-10 summit in New Delhi on September 20 was that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with his entire delegation, was stuck in India for more than 48 hours because his Airbus A310 plane had broken down. In the following days, that incident was the talk of Indian politicians, who commented that it had not been a comfortable stay for Trudeau.

The hosts did not entertain the Canadian like the rest of the leaders. In the circles of the international delegations they spoke of the Indians having more than one ugly diplomatic gesture due to the tensions between Ottawa and Delhi due to the activities in Canada of the Sikh separatist group, originally from the Indian region of Punjab. This week, those tensions have turned directly into an unprecedented diplomatic conflict between the two countries.

On June 18, a Sikh separatist leader named Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was one of the loudest activists from Canada, was shot dead inside his vehicle in the Canadian city of Surrey. On Monday afternoon, Trudeau, speaking in the House of Commons, said Canadian authorities were investigating "credible allegations of a potential link" between Indian government agents and the activist's murder. The prime minister also revealed that, during his trip to Delhi for the G20 summit, he personally conveyed the "deep concerns" on this matter to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.

"Any involvement of a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies are conducted," Trudeau said, calling on Modi's government to cooperate with them to "get to the bottom of this matter."

After the appearance of the leader, it was the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Melanie Joly, who announced that her Government had expelled an Indian diplomat (the highest-ranking official of the mission in Ottawa of the Indian intelligence agency) for the murder of the activist.

From New Delhi have rejected on Tuesday the accusation about his possible participation in the crime. "The allegations in any act of violence in Canada are absurd. The Canadian prime minister made similar accusations to our prime minister, which were completely rejected. We are a democratic political system with a strong commitment to the rule of law," read a statement from India's Ministry of External Affairs.

According to Canadian media, Canadian intelligence officials had designated Nijjar as a "terrorist target" because of his activities within a group that claims the creation of an independent Sikh state. In 2016, Nijjar wrote a letter to Trudeau saying his activism was "peaceful and democratic."

Canada is home to one of the largest communities of Indian origin abroad, numbering approximately 1.4 million. Among them is the largest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab — rocked by a violent Khalistan separatist movement in the 1980s and early 1990s, in which thousands died — with around 770,000 people according to the latest census in 2021.

"The baseless allegations seek to divert attention from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided safe haven in Canada and continue to threaten India's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Canadian government's inaction on this matter has been an ongoing and long-standing concern. That Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a matter of deep concern," the statement said.

After Nijjar was killed on the grounds of the gurdwara, a Sikh temple over which he presided, his cult groups that are registered in Canada called on the Trudeau government to investigate India's role in a crime for which no arrests have yet been made.

From Ottawa they have assured that this week, during the UN General Assembly held in New York, Trudeau will put on the table the possible participation of India in the murder of the separatist, and that he will seek to discuss the issue with his US counterpart Joe Biden. Although Washington does not seem to be at all comfortable with this confrontation between its neighbor and NATO ally, and a country so necessary in the US strategy in Asia to contain China.

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