The claims made by Canada regarding India’s involvement in the death of a Sikh activist have been linked to the strongman tactics of the Narendra Modi administration in three international newspapers- two analytical articles and an editorial published in The Atlantic, The Economist, and The Times.
All three have underlined how Modi is being seen as a leader who represses the press and dissenters on a worldwide scale.
Government that “silence dissidents”- The Atlantic
This evolving opinion of the Modi administration was observed by The Atlantic, an American magazine, in their research.
The article reads, “The Indian government has denied involvement in the killing, but under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it has become illiberal at home and bellicose abroad, such that assassinations on foreign soil are no longer an unimaginable part of its agenda.”
Also, “New Delhi, in other words, could well be a government that will do anything to silence dissidents.”
In the essay, the Khalistani movement is traced, along with the 1985 bombing of an Air India flight and the murder of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
According to the report, Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s action was nonviolent and opposed to the claimed terrorist activities of those who were slain in India. It reads, “If India is behind Nijjar’s killing, its actions don’t reflect fears of Sikh secession so much as India’s transformation into an illiberal state where the government has elevated one religion – Hinduism – at the expense of all others, and where policy makers tolerate little dissent.”
In contrast to Muslims, for example, the report states that Sikhs have thus far been “spared the worst ethnonationalist measures,” but with last week’s events, they are “no longer as exempt.”
The essay uses the historical demonstrations that resulted in the Modi administration repealing the farm laws in 2021 as justification.
Also noted in the article is the reason why India’s assertion that the United States views it as a natural ally may not be accurate if India is “trying to create not a great, peaceful democracy but an avowedly Hindu power that dominates South Asia.”
“Time for a tougher line”- The Economist
According to The Economist, a British weekly newspaper, India has “long been accused of assassinating militants and dissidents in its own messy region; never previously in the friendly and orderly West.”
The magazine made notice of the current situation and agreed with Atlantic in saying that America and its allies should view it as a warning shot against their own eagerness to ignore the “too frequent abuses” of the Modi regime.
The report characterises the claimed death as a continuation of the government’s campaign of repression against dissenters, much like the analysis above. It reads, “On its own turf it has muzzled the press, cowed the courts and persecuted minorities, even though none is a threat to it. The alleged assassination in Canada, too, appears gratuitous as well as wrong.”
The article claims that turning separatist leaders into martyrs is ultimately a gift to their struggling cause. According to the Economist, India’s fast ascent is characterised by this underlying sense of fear.
“The country is almost invariably weaker than its leaders publicly proclaim, yet stronger than they privately fear—and that mismatch is a recipe for miscalculations of this kind.”
The article also claims that the West faces accusations of hypocrisy due to its assertion of universal principles. It declares “If the investigation confirms Indian involvement in this crime, it is time for a tougher line.”
The Times view on the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar: Prime Suspect- The Times
The Times, a British daily national newspaper, emphasised that if the claim against Canada—a country it referred to as “ostensibly friendly”—is accurate, it might change how the world views India.
“Mr Modi, a substantial figure in global politics, could find himself cast alongside Vladimir Putin as a rogue actor,” it reads.
This editorial also mentions how India has fallen in the world’s rankings for press and religious freedom under Modi’s “muscular instincts.”
The editorial refers to the BBC office searches that occurred after the exposé about Modi’s involvement in the violence in Gujarat.
“Despite fears about his growing authoritarianism Mr Modi has maintained his position in the global mainstream. But killing Mr Nijjar, who was designated by Delhi as a terrorist for his championing of a Sikh homeland in the Punjab, takes India out of that mainstream and into the dubious company of “hit job” states like Russia.”
This editorial notes that the British are in a difficult position since they are sandwiched between two strong Commonwealth nations and that there will undoubtedly be significant diplomatic repercussions.