India, Canada Ties Nosedive Further; After Khalistan & Nijjar Issue, Trudeau Govt Targets Indian Students

India-Canada relations have nose-dived ever since Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau leveled unsubstantiated accusations against India of involvement in the assassination of a hardcore Indian criminal, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. 

Wanted by the Indian authorities for various crimes, Nijjar escaped to Canada, where he was sheltered by the Khalistani separatist diaspora, whose political wing is the coalition partner of Trudeau’s government. 

India crushed a separatist armed Sikh insurgency in the 1980s and 1990s, and the movement has little support in the country now, although some in the Sikh diaspora continue to advocate for Khalistan (a separate homeland for Sikhs).

Trudeau’s government has not produced any dependable proof of alleged Indian involvement in the assassination of Najjar. However, it recently claimed the arrest of three alleged suspects, all of Indian origin, in the Najjar murder case.


Unfortunately, the fallout of Trudeau’s public accusation of India led to the straining of relations between the two countries. Envoys have been recalled; threats to Indian diplomatic staff in Indian missions or consulates in Canada pour in frequently:  open anti-India tirades by the Sikh separatists in Canada have become routine.

The Canadian government falls short of honoring the international protocol for diplomatic safeguards. Provocative rallies are held in public places, where unfriendly slogans are raised, and graffiti is displayed. All these activities are bound to create a deeper chasm in bilateral relations, whereas efforts should have been directed towards putting a hold on them.

Indian Students

Canada is one of the much sought-after countries to whose educational institutions a large number of Indian students flock every year. Most of these students come from the province of Punjab because there is a strong Indian Sikh diaspora in Canada, which gives a sense of security to the students.

Secondly, the Canadian government has comparatively liberal rules for immigrants, especially for students who spend a specific period in Canada. English being the medium of instruction is added enticement for the Indian students. 

According to the Economic Times of 18 June 2023, about 320,000 Indian students hailing mostly from Punjab are facing deportation because of sudden changes made in the admission rules for foreign students in some of the Canadian states or provinces.

The Scam

The deportation of the Indian students was decided based on the unearthing of fake admission letters to Canadian educational institutions issued by the college/in-situation authorities.

Not one but many agencies from Canada to Punjab are reportedly involved in the big scam. Most of the students in Punjab and their parents are desirous of students going to Canada. This makes them vulnerable to unscrupulous immigration agents.

It is easy in Canada to start a private college once the provincial registration is secured. Private colleges have become money-generating machines as they charge four times more in fees than public colleges. Punjab students generally get enrolled in these colleges because Canadian students invariably avoid them.

In this fraudulent practice, Punjab admission agents are in league with the authorities of Canadian private colleges whose principles issue admission letters to prospective students based on which they manage to obtain visas for Canada.

The Economic Times reports, “Due to high demand for admission letters in Punjab, it is suspected that immigration agents resort to creating forged admission letters for these students. Alternatively, agents may have obtained more admission letters than the available seats in specific colleges by bribing individuals at Canadian private colleges.”

There is another aspect of this scam. How many students seeking admission to Canadian private colleges come to genuinely pursue studies in Canada is a mystery. A knowledgeable local source said that the Naujawan Support Network has written to all political parties, urging an investigation into the role of immigration agents in India, private colleges in Canada, and the immigration authorities for an investigation into the scam.

Reports from knowledgeable sources say that students arriving with forged admission letters never actually join their colleges. What they do is that on arrival, they bribe local trucking authorities to obtain LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) documents, enabling them to work with foreign workers. This practice is said to be prevalent within the community.

File: Modi-Trudeau

Deportation Order Rescinded

These disclosures reveal that there is a constant effort to smuggle Indian students, mostly from Punjab, into Canada through fair or foul means. In this mega scam, there is involvement of many agencies and organizations in Punjab as well as Canada.

The question is, who in Canada has opened the most private colleges, and how many clandestine networks are they associated with in generating fake admission letters and selling them to prospective students whose number runs into hundreds of thousands? The affected students of Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) region have held protest demonstrations against the new laws introduced in their college.

In reply to a question in the Parliament, the Indian External Minister said that the government was aware of the issue and is in touch with the Canadian counterpart and also the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi about the deportation of nearly 700 Indian citizens.

The government said that Canada was told that the Indian citizens are not at any fault for seeking admission because the fault lies with the Canada-based colleges that issue fake admission letters.

The foreign minister disclosed that the Canadian government had set up a task force to assist the affected persons. He told the parliament that Canadian authorities had announced they would halt deportation during the review period and that genuine students would be eligible to remain in Canada.

The uncovering of this scam reveals that there is a huge nexus between the admission agents in India and the owners of private colleges in Canada. It also comes to light that some of the security personnel and immigration functionaries, the truck drivers’ organizations, and many more whom we may not be able to identify have been the accomplices in this mega scam.

This all raises questions about Canada’s educational and internal security arrangements. We hope the Canadian government will show the same understanding and cooperation in other matters between the two countries in the larger interest of world peace.

  • Prof. KN Pandita (Padma Shri) is the former director of the Center of Central Asian Studies at Kashmir University.
  • This article contains the author’s personal views and does not represent EurAsian Times’ policies/views/opinions in any way. 
  • The author can be reached at knp627 (at)