Toronto, Sept 19: Canada has expelled a top Indian diplomat as it investigates allegations of India’s government having links to the assassination of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, stated that Canadian intelligence agencies have been looking into these allegations since Nijjar was killed on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia.
Trudeau brought up the matter with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G-20 meeting and expressed that any Indian government involvement would be unacceptable. Canada’s Foreign Minister, Mélanie Joly, announced the expulsion of the head of Indian intelligence in Canada in response to these allegations.
The expulsion has strained relations between Canada and India, with trade talks being derailed and a planned trade mission to India canceled.
At the G-20 meeting, Modi expressed concerns over Canada’s handling of the Punjabi independence movement, accusing the Sikh movement of promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats. Canada has a significant Sikh population of over 770,000, representing about 2% of its total population.
Trudeau emphasized that Canada has been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Indian government and Nijjar’s killing. He described any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil as an unacceptable violation of sovereignty. Canadian security agencies have been investigating the matter closely and coordinating with allies.
Opposition leaders in Canada have also expressed concerns over the allegations, calling for transparency and the truth to come out. The Khalistan movement, seeking a separate Sikh state, is banned in India, but it has support in countries like Canada and the UK, which have significant Sikh diasporas.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada stated that Nijjar was an outspoken supporter of Khalistan who had publicly spoken about threats to his life and being targeted by Indian intelligence agencies. Nijjar had talked about an unofficial Khalistan referendum vote.
The situation has raised concerns about foreign interference and its impact on Canada’s diverse communities, especially those with ties to India and other countries with large diasporas in Canada.