India warns nationals in Canada to 'exercise utmost caution'

The Indian government on Wednesday issued a warning to its citizens in Canada after Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau said the Indian government may have played a role in the assassination of a Sikh activist and Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. File Photo by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)/ UPI

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The Indian government on Wednesday issued a warning advising nationals in Canada to "exercise utmost caution" amid heightened tensions over the assassination of a Sikh leader in British Columbia.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that all Indian nationals and "Indian students in particular" should remain vigilant, citing threats targeting Indian diplomats and "sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda."

"In view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those contemplating travel are urged to exercise utmost caution," the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release Wednesday.

The Ministry advised Indian students to register with the High Commissioner of India in Ottawa or Consulates General of India in Toronto and Vancouver.

The warning came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday accused the Indian government of being linked the June 18 killing of Canadian Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who advocated for an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan.

Canada also expelled the head of the Research and Analysis Wing, which is India's foreign intelligence agency in Canada and India responded by informing the Canadian High Commissioner Cameron Mackay that it was expelling an official who has been identified in media reports as intelligence station chief Olivier Sylvestere.

The action drew widespread condemnation from India as the Indian World Forum urged Canada to "act seriously on nefarious elements" in the nation including Arshdeep Signh Dhalla and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, both of whom India has designated as terrorists.

"Indian World Forum strongly condemns the disgruntled activities by unlawful organizations including Sikhs for Justice for stalking and purporting violence on the Indian diaspora in Canada," in the IWF said in a statement.

Indian Congress Party MP Shashi Tharoor also condemned Trudeau for taking "such a public route" in response to the issue.

"If at all they have any issue, these matters should be discussed privately with a friendly government like India and the matter should be discussed behind closed doors. Going public, making a statement in the Parliament was very unfortunate by the Prime Minster and having gone that far they have really jeopardized the state of a very good relationship," Tharoro said