Lecture halls at Canadian and U.S. universities have become battlegrounds for critics and defenders of Hindu nationalism, punctuated by threats of violence and even death. Temples of Sikhs and Hindus in Canada and Australia have been defaced with slogans harking back to India’s timeless divisions. Parades in two North American cities have featured displays celebrating episodes of brutal sectarian violence in India.

The Canadian government’s startling accusation that Indian government agents were behind the professional-style killing of a Canadian Sikh separatist in Vancouver, British Columbia, has focused attention on the growing tensions within the vast Indian diaspora, reflecting divisions in India that have been fueled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brand of Hindu nationalism.

Modi’s Hindu-first policies and increasing intolerance of scrutiny have spilled over into Indian communities worldwide, intensifying historical divisions among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and different castes. They have played out in city councils, school boards, cultural celebrations and academic circles.