In the Canadian House of Commons, September 18th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented credible allegations that India had assassinated a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. Not only is an assassination done on foreign soil a blatant violation of sovereignty, it signals a testing of the waters for India's foreign policy related to countries they know will not rise to the occasion of blatant global conflict. The Indian government's response to these accusations has been to both deny their involvement and accuse Canada of harboring terrorists. If they picked a lane and chose one argument, they may have risked the chance of looking innocent. However, using a rhetorical strategy that amounts to "We didn't do it, but if we did you deserved it" comes off as disingenuous at best and a declaration of continued aggression at worst. Tensions continue to rise after Trudeau confronted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 last week. India has suspended Canadian Visas and Canada has expelled Indian diplomats from the country, setting the groundwork for geopolitical fallout.
The global far right has a taste for violence in the name of nationalism. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is the ruler of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is far right and overtly Hindu nationalist. Since Modi's election in 2014, the party has pushed policies that explicitly ignore the rights of Muslims in India. Its no surprise that a Hindu nationalist regime would target a Sikh separatist since religious fundamentalism cannot coexist with other worldviews. However, what's strange is the targeting of Sikh Separatist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been living in Canada for 16 years. According to India, Nijjar was the mastermind of a militant group within India called the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and had been operationalizing, networking, and training members. Recently before his untimely death at the hands of two gunmen, Nijjar had pledged to create a non binding referendum in British Columbia on the creation of an independent Sikh state in India. This final act was the catalyst for the BJPs revenge. The creation of a Sikh state in India is directly against the interests of Hindu nationalists who want a religious homogeneity.
What are the next steps for India and Canada? The foreign assassination of a political enemy is a rare event in contemporary history. In 2006, The European Court of Human Rights found the Kremlin guilty of poisoning Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence operative who had defected to the West. Litvinenko was found dead after drinking tea that was found to be laced with Polonium-210, a radioactive compound. He was poisoned in London, on British soil. In March 2018, a former British MI6 agent who was returned to Britain in a Russian prisoner swap, was found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, England alongside his wife. The two survived the attack, but it demonstrates the willingness of the Russian state to commit extrajudicial assassinations on foreign soil.
In response to the killing of Litvinenko, the UK government expelled four Russian diplomats from London as well as suspended negotiations for a bilateral visa-facilitation agreement, and tightened other visa arrangements. The UK also discussed with European partners the cause for alarm, although the response was lackluster. It is likely Canada will follow suit in a similar response to India. However, the UK still had to maintain relations with Russia due to their extensive cultural exchange and bilateral trade. Ultimately, policy towards Russia didn't start hardening until the annexation of Crimea and the current invasion of Ukraine. Canada and India have extensive cultural exchange and trade relationships. Modi, like Putin, will continue to feel liberated in using violence until an overstepping occurs, like Russia invading Ukraine, and a resulting consequence from the international community is dolled out. Modi's rhetoric towards Muslims and fascist repressive targeted policies towards Muslim citizens will continue to escalate in the same manner as Putin's rhetoric on Ukraine. Tensions with Pakistan could overflow as aggression persists. Fascists boldness grows with each transgression they can get away with. Global fascism's stranglehold on the world grows bit by bit.