India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, emphasized the Modi government’s dedication to addressing the concerns of the Sikh community, highlighting that extremist elements represent only a small minority within the community. Speaking at a press conference in Washington DC, Mr. Jaishankar addressed the ongoing ‘Khalistan’ issue and reassured the international community that it does not reflect the views of the entire Sikh community.
Over the last decade, the Indian government has made substantial efforts to address the issues affecting the Sikh community, stated Mr. Jaishankar, underlining their commitment to ensuring the welfare and rights of the Sikh population. He expressed his belief that the current discussions surrounding the ‘Khalistan’ issue do not represent the broader Sikh community but are primarily propagated by a small minority with separatist inclinations and a proclivity for violence.
In his address, Mr. Jaishankar also drew attention to India’s strained relations with Canada, attributing the tension to the Canadian government’s alleged permissiveness regarding terrorism, extremism, and violence within its borders. He mentioned that this permissiveness has hindered the extradition of individuals and organizations involved in violence and illegal activities in India. He highlighted that some individuals and groups openly espouse violence and illicit activities without repercussions, creating a challenging diplomatic situation.
The ongoing diplomatic dispute between India and Canada escalated when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India categorically rejected these allegations, deeming them absurd and motivated, and called on Canada to provide evidence to substantiate the claims.
In response to the escalating tensions, India suspended its visa services in Canada, signaling its dissatisfaction with Canada’s approach to the issue. Additionally, India issued an advisory to its citizens and travelers to Canada, urging them to exercise utmost caution due to the rising anti-India activities, politically-condoned hate crimes, and criminal violence within the country.
The Sikh community, which plays a significant role in India’s cultural and social fabric, has been a subject of concern in recent times due to the ‘Khalistan’ issue and allegations of separatism and violence. Mr. Jaishankar’s statement underscores India’s commitment to protecting the rights and interests of the Sikh community while also emphasizing the need for unbiased actions by respective governments when addressing extremist elements.