The recent killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada unfolds how it is difficult to deal with India being sensitive to global criticism. The Prime Minister of Canada has openly alluded to credible allegations implicating India in the aforementioned incident and has sought India’s cooperation in the matter. However, it is noteworthy that India’s historical approach characterized by a degree of assertiveness in its engagements with neighboring nations has manifested itself in its interactions with Canada, albeit yielding somewhat constrained outcomes. India rebuffed the allegations as completely false and accused Canada of providing a safe haven to anti-India elements. As Canada expelled Indian diplomats, to reciprocate, India demanded that Canadian diplomats leave within five days for its alleged involvement in anti-state activities.
Adherents of the radical Hindutva ideology have embarked upon a campaign of coercion, directed towards the Canadian Prime Minister, with the explicit demand for stringent actions to be taken against the Sikh community, under the implied threat of impending repercussions.
In a concerning development, a prominent academic figure, holding the esteemed position of Chair Professor at the Centre for Freedom Struggle and Diaspora Studies, has issued a highly alarming statement, hinting at the potential deployment of ten nuclear submarines for the purpose of targeting Canada. This assertion has raised critical questions, particularly given India’s less-than-ideal track record in nuclear safety, which has been marred by significant incidents of nuclear theft. Such circumstances provoke inquiries into the robustness of India’s nuclear command and control infrastructure, and the possibility of its susceptibility to influence by extremist elements. In light of these developments, it becomes imperative for the United States to reconsider India’s membership within the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and its support for India’s inclusion in the N5 group. These deliberations are essential to ensure that the global nuclear landscape maintains its integrity and adheres to established safety and security norms.
Moreover, the professor questioning Canada’s standing forgot that Canada is the one who’s research reactor India exploited for its atomic energy program. His expressions tell the mindset prevails in India. The extremist approach adopted by India against the allegations highlights how India is becoming a threat to global peace. Moreover, the open threats against Sikhs residing in Canada should not be ignored in light of what is happening in India. Radicalized youth increasingly exhibit proclivities toward violence, a phenomenon attributed to their exposure to films endorsed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the consumption of inflammatory speeches. Subsequently, these individuals adopt aggressive slogans and engage in acts of violence against minority communities. This growing culture of intolerance in India is seen as a consequence of the ideological seeds of radicalization that have been disseminated, in part, by the BJP.
If we dive into history, India’s descent into darkness is parallel to the rise of the BJP in power. BJP with the mandate of turning India into a pan-Hindu state has radicalized the society. Modi’s ethno-nationalist rule inculcated Hindutva ideology and radicalized Hindus by presenting them as superior beings. The social fabric for minorities started to shrink under the Modi regime followed by hate-mongering speeches and open calls for violence against minorities. India with a claim of being the largest democracy started losing its democratic values under the BJP radicals. VDEM report raised concerns about India turning into an electoral autocracy. Until now, it was the South Asian region dealing with India’s hostile designs and its interference in their territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Moreover, this recent act of terrorism is likely to exacerbate intolerance against minority communities in India, potentially leading to increased instances of conflicts and provocative actions towards neighboring nations. Prime Minister Modi has consistently portrayed himself as a robust leader who has bolstered India’s strength and influence on the global stage, potentially emboldening nationalist sentiments. Furthermore, there is a concern that radical Hindu elements may exploit this act of terrorism as part of election slogans targeting Canada.
Canada-India’s rift over the extra-territorial killing highlighted India has expanded its hostile designs toward the West. It is pertinent to highlight that India’s misadventure in the West which was confined to the South Asian region, is the result of being positioned as a state that can really rise and serve as a counterweight to China. Its hostile approach to Canada is due to the assurance it presumed from the G20 summit. As it was not rebuked for gross violation of human rights and press freedom. Moreover, India exercising its significance in its strategic partnership with the US curtail it from condemning Russia against the Russia-Ukraine war. This strengthens India’s beliefs that the US will side with India in its misadventure towards the West. In addition, if this belief strengthens further then the next territorial killing might happen in the US itself.
The aggressive designs of Modi’s government have put the US and the NATO Allies in a hornet nest, its hostile response and jingoistic rants would assist the BJP government in domestic politics. For petty political benefits, the BJP government is compromising India’s stature internationally and pushing the West to choose between the two, Canada and India. In that case, it would be the Indian or BJP government that will suffer in the long run as the West is already compromising on declining democratic values in India. The US would be walking a tightrope in the growing rift between its NATO ally and strategic ally but in the long run, India will be losing its credibility as a reliable partner.
The writer is a Research Officer at the Centre for International Strategic Studies AJK