The anticipated three-year voyage around the world, set to commence from Istanbul on November 1, has hit a significant roadblock. Life at Sea Cruises, the company behind this ambitious journey, has yet to secure a ship for the voyage. As a result, the departure has been postponed to November 11, but from Amsterdam, not Istanbul.
The diplomatic relationship between Canada and India has been strained following the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and influential Sikh leader. Nijjar was tragically killed by two unidentified attackers in British Columbia in June. The situation intensified when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that credible intelligence indicated potential involvement of Indian government agents in the assassination. India has categorically denied these allegations, dismissing them as “absurd and motivated.”
In response to the ongoing dispute, India has not only threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of Canadian diplomats but has also suspended visa services for Canadian citizens, citing “security threats” against its diplomats in Canada.
Canada, on its part, has temporarily halted in-person operations at its consulates in several Indian cities, including Bengaluru, Chandigarh, and Mumbai. However, in-person consular services remain accessible in New Delhi.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mélanie Joly, commented on the situation, labeling India’s recent actions as “unreasonable.” She emphasized the importance of the safety of Canadian diplomats and confirmed that the 41 diplomats and their families have already departed from India. However, 21 Canadian diplomats still remain in the country. Joly urged India to adhere to international law and clarified that Canada would not reciprocate with similar actions, as it would breach international law.
The heart of the dispute revolves around Nijjar’s advocacy for the creation of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland encompassing parts of India. Nijjar, a vocal supporter of Khalistan, frequently led peaceful protests against alleged human rights violations in India. The Khalistan movement is banned in India and is viewed as a national security threat. Several associated groups are labeled as “terrorist organizations” under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Nijjar himself was listed as a UAPA terrorist.
Supporters of Nijjar have refuted the terrorist label, arguing that it’s an attempt to tarnish Nijjar’s reputation. His assassination has deeply affected the Sikh community in Canada, which is one of the largest Sikh communities outside India.