OTTAWA Canada said on Monday it had credible information linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh leader in British Columbia in June and said it had expelled a senior Indian intelligence official.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen was “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18.
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Nijjar supported a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state and been branded by India as a “terrorist,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said.
“Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau said in an emergency statement to the House of Commons parliamentary chamber.
“Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government. Last week at the G20 I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi in no uncertain terms.”
New Delhi said last week that Modi had conveyed strong concerns about protests in Canada against India to Trudeau.
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly told reporters that Ottawa had expelled the Indian head of intelligence in Canada but gave no further details.
Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India, and the country has been the site of many protests that have irked India.
India on Tuesday termed Canada’s allegations that Indian government agents were linked to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in the country “absurd and motivated”.
“Similar allegations were made by the Canadian prime minister to our prime minister, and were completely rejected,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Here are some recent examples of uneasy ties between the two countries:
Sept 2023: Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng postponed a trade mission to India planned for October. Both countries said they paused trade talks after expressing earlier in 2023 they aimed to seal an initial trade deal this year.
Bilateral commercial relations between the two countries are worth $100 billion, which includes $70 billion of Canadian portfolio investment, according to Indian figures.
Sept 2023: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed strong concerns about protests in Canada against India to Trudeau on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi.
While a Sikh insurgency was suppressed in India in the 1990s, authorities have been wary of any revival of agitation, with a particular focus on small groups of Sikhs in Canada, who support the separatist demand and occasionally stage protests outside Indian embassies.
June 2023: India’s foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, hit out at Canada for allowing a float in a parade depicting the 1984 assassination of then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, perceived to be glorification of violence by Sikh separatists.
Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by two Sikh bodyguards after she allowed the storming of the holiest Sikh temple, aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists who demanded an independent homeland to be known as Khalistan. The storming of the temple had angered Sikhs around the world.
March 2023: India summoned Canada’s High Commissioner to convey concern over pro-Khalistan protesters in Canada who breached the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates.
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