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India suspends FTA talks with Canada : Is Trudeau Govt’s ‘Open Support’ to Khalistani Movement ruining relation of both Nations?

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India has suspended free-trade talks with Canada as Ottawa is encouraging subversive elements who are carrying out anti-India activities on its soil, two officials said on Friday, adding that the talks will resume only after the impasse is resolved.

“New Delhi will not engage in trade talks with any country that allows subversive activities against India or its people,” one of the officials quoted above said. The other official said India has raised objections to certain political developments in Canada and “paused” negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) until the matter is resolved. Both requested anonymity.

The development came just days after PM Modi conveyed to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau strong concerns about anti-India elements promoting secessionism from Canadian soil and inciting violence against diplomats, on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

An official statement said that, “They [referring to the subversive elements] are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises, and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship. The nexus of such forces with organised crime, drug syndicates and human trafficking should be a concern for Canada as well.”

The PM also mentioned that a relationship based on mutual respect and trust is essential for the progress of India-Canada relationship.

It seems Canada govt was not ready to understand the gravity of this situation. As Canadian PM Trudeau said, “Canada will always defend “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and peaceful protest.” Trudeau also said that, “at the same time as we are always there to prevent violence, to push back against hatred.” He further added that the actions of the few “do not represent the entire community or Canada.”

What more appalling was that within hours, various terrorist groups under the leadership of Sikhs for Justice hastily arranged the so-called Khalistan Referendum at a gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia and then announced yet another round of voting on October 29 in the same town.

India was negotiating an interim Indo-Canada Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), which would have finally culminated into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) or a wide-ranging FTA. After the relaunch of FTA negotiations between India and Canada in March 2022, nine rounds of negotiations were already held till July this year.

The five-day Team Canada trade mission was to be led by Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng and begin on October 9. However, Canadian media reported on Friday that it had been postponed. The agency Canadian Press cited Ng’s office in this regard, adding it gave no reason for the postponement. A senior Indian official said they became aware of the decision only through the media.

How Khalistani Terrorism can ruin India-Canada relationship?

Canada has the second largest Sikh population in the world after India, and hence ever since the Khalistan separatist movement started in Indian Punjab, Canada has been in the news. No one had an idea in 1897 when RMS Empress of India, a merchant ship, landed in Vancouver with the first lot of Sikh people from India that they would become a prominent community in the country. In the last 125 years, almost five to six generations of Sikh community have flourished in Canada having strong representation in all fields of governance.

When in 1980, Khalistan movement started to deepen its roots in Punjab, its direct links were traced to Canada. On 23rd June 1985, when Air India flight IC-182 was bombed near Ireland, it became clear that the roots of the Anti-Indian separatist movement in Canada have grown to a stage when it’s impossible to contain. Ever since then, Canada has been an important center point for Anti-Indian activities especially by Khalistani separatists nurtured by Pakistani ISI. This was evident from the fact that when US based separatist organization Sikh for Justice (SFJ) started their so-called Referendum 2020, the first conference took place in Toronto-Canada itself. 

Recent events suggest that there is a serious political compulsion on Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada, due to which he is not only silent over the separatist movement but also seen attending their functions. During the 2019 Canadian federal elections, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party got 157 seats which was 13 seats less than the majority. To form the government, it had to seek support from the “New Democratic Party” which is led by Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal, a separatist whose visa was denied by the Indian government in 2013. 

Today, the New Democratic Party is ruling British Columbia, the province with highest percentage of Sikh population in Canada and is the major opposition party in Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the provinces with prominent Sikh population. Under such compulsions, it is obvious that in order to secure his political position, Trudeau is left with no option but to ignore anti-India voices in Canada.

Separatist leaders roaming freely as part of the government, weak extradition laws, indirect support of the Canadian Prime Minister, easy money from the drug cartels and total ignorance from law enforcement agencies have given rise to a strong anti-India sentiment in Canada. It has become a safe haven for terrorists, criminals and drug cartels and an immediate stop at these activities needs to be brought by the Canadian government. 

It’s now or never. No country should allow its land to be used against another democracy and Canada should follow this principle. In case they do not, they will fall victim to it too like Pakistan. For over four decades, Pakistan exported terror to the rest of the world and now the same terror is shaking the very foundations of the country. Canada should understand this too. Today the separatists who are speaking against India will stand against it too tomorrow.

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