The Canadian government on Tuesday updated its travel advisory asking its citizens to avoid all travel to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir “due to the unpredictable security situation”, ramping up a confrontation between the two countries over Canada’s accusations that the Indian government may have been involved in the killing of Khalistan extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
“Avoid all travel to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir due to the unpredictable security situation. There is a threat of terrorism, militancy, civil unrest and kidnapping. This advisory excludes travelling to or within the Union Territory of Ladakh,” Canada stated in the advisory for India, marking it an “Exercise A High Degree Of Caution”.
The latest development comes even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday demanded that India treat with “utmost seriousness” Canada’s allegations of New Delhi’s possible involvement in the slaying of Nijjar, a concern echoed by Washington.
Canada’s assertion led to reciprocal expulsions of an Indian intelligence official from Canada and a senior Canadian diplomat from New Delhi.
“India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that, we are not looking to provoke or escalate,” Trudeau told reporters.
Canada said Monday that there were “credible allegations” that agents linked to New Delhi were responsible for the murder June 18 of Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, in front of a Sikh cultural centre in a Vancouver suburb.
The Narendra Modi government called Canada’s allegations “absurd”.
Trudeau, however, on Tuesday said that his statement was not meant to “escalate” tensions with New Delhi.
“We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them,” he said in Ottawa on Tuesday morning, according to public broadcaster CBC.
“The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that,” Trudeau said, a day after his speech in the House of Commons that was followed by Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian diplomat.
India summoned Canadian envoy Cameron MacKay to the external affairs ministry and informed him of New Delhi’s decision to expel a senior Canadian diplomat, the head of Canadian intelligence in India.
“The decision reflects the Indian government’s ‘growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities’, a statement issued by the external affairs ministry said later.
“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing 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 conduct themselves,” Trudeau said on Monday.
The accusation was widely seen to further damage bilateral relations, which were already at an all-time low over the activities of pro-Khalistan elements in Canada, including holding a so-called referendum on a separate homeland for Sikhs, targeting of Indian diplomatic premises, and incitement of violence against top Indian officials.
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