Trudeau accuses India of killing on Canadian soil, expels intel chief
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Sikh figure, was killed on June 18, sending India-Canada ties to a new low.
Canada has expelled a high-ranking Indian diplomat while conducting an investigation into what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described as "credible accusations" suggesting potential connections between the Indian government and the assassination of a Sikh activist within Canada. India, in response, dismissed these allegations as "absurd".
BREAKING | PM @JustinTrudeau confirms today in Parliament that Canadian intelligence believes that the Indian state was involved in the unprecedented assassination of Canadian Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil.— Baaz (@BaazNewsOrg) September 18, 2023
Trudeau called extrajudicial actions by India a serious… pic.twitter.com/Sx50KsZVcA
During a parliamentary session on Monday, Trudeau revealed that Canadian intelligence agencies have been actively investigating the allegations. These concerns arose following the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent advocate for an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan. Nijjar was fatally shot on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural center located in Surrey, British Columbia.
In Parliament, Trudeau disclosed that he had raised the issue of the assassination with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting at the Group of 20 summit held in New Delhi last week. Trudeau conveyed to Modi that any potential involvement of the Indian government would be deemed unacceptable. He also requested cooperation from the Indian government in the ongoing investigation.
As a result of the situation, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced that the chief of Indian intelligence operating in Canada has been expelled from the country.
My statement on allegations surrounding the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. pic.twitter.com/auIyj194A8— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) September 19, 2023
“If proven true this would be a great violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other,” Joly said. “As a consequence, we have expelled a top Indian diplomat.”
Meanwhile, India's Foreign Ministry rejected the accusation of government involvement, deeming it "absurd and driven by ulterior motives." In its statement on Tuesday, the Ministry also noted that Trudeau had raised similar allegations with Modi during the G20 summit.
“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement noted, in reference to a separatist movement India considers as a security threat.
Later, it was revealed that, in response, a Canadian diplomat was expelled with five days' notice to leave the country.
The Canadian high commissioner, or ambassador, in New Delhi had been summoned and told of the expulsion decision, India's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Government of #India summons High Commissioner of #Canada, conveys decision to expel senior Canadian diplomat.— Kanchan Gupta 🇮🇳 (@KanchanGupta) September 19, 2023
Decision reflects India's growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in India's internal affairs and their involvement in anti-India activities. pic.twitter.com/oFSFaHLm5o
"The decision reflects the government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities," the Ministry added.
"The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days."
Relations with India were already tense. Now it’s getting worse
The expulsion comes to add more bitterness to Canada-India ties. Trade negotiations have been disrupted, and Canada has recently called off a trade delegation to India scheduled for the autumn.
While meeting Trudeau at the G20 summit, Modi conveyed "serious apprehensions" regarding Canada's management of the Sikh diaspora's demands for Punjabi independence, as reported by India's Ministry of External Affairs.
The statement characterized the Sikh movement as actively encouraging secessionist activities and instigating violence against Indian diplomats. It urged Canada to collaborate with India on addressing what New Delhi perceives as a threat to the Indian diaspora in Canada.
It is worth noting that Canada is home to a Sikh community comprising over 770,000 individuals, which constitutes approximately 2% of its overall population.
“Over the past number of weeks 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.
The Canadian PM stated that his country expressed its profound apprehensions to the Indian government.
“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he added.
Trudeau mentioned that his administration has been collaborating closely and aligning its efforts with Canada's allies regarding the situation.
“In the strongest possible terms I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter,” he stressed.
Dominic LeBlanc, the Public Safety Minister of Canada, stated that Canada's national security advisor and the director of Canada's intelligence agency have journeyed to India to engage in discussions with their counterparts and to address the Indian intelligence agencies regarding the accusations.
He referred to it as an ongoing homicide inquiry spearheaded by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Joly added that Trudeau also brought up the issue with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations referenced by Prime Minister Trudeau,” said White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
“We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” he added.
The Khalistan movement is prohibited in India, where authorities view it and related organizations as a matter of national security concern. Nonetheless, this movement continues to receive some backing in northern India and extends its influence abroad, particularly in nations like Canada and the United Kingdom, where there is a substantial Sikh diaspora.
At the time of his death, Nijjar was reportedly orchestrating an informal vote in India aimed at establishing a separate Sikh nation. In the previous year, Indian officials had offered a monetary reward for details that could lead to Nijjar's apprehension, alleging his involvement in a purported assault on a Hindu priest in India. He is even accused of targeted killings in the Asian country.
Justin Trudeau believes that Indian agents killed Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) September 19, 2023
Khalistani terrorist Nijjar was involved in targeted killings in India. He was shot dead by unidentified men in June
Now, Canadian PM is running Khalistan Movement pic.twitter.com/uEZEEliFw8
British Columbia Premier David Eby has disclosed that he received a comprehensive briefing from Canada's intelligence agency regarding the "assassination of Nijjar," and he expressed profound concern over the information he received.
He is urging the Canadian government to disclose all relevant data concerning continuing external interference and the menace of "transnational organized crime threats.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada described Nijjar as a vocal advocate for Khalistan, noting that he frequently led demonstrations to protest the ongoing human rights violations in India and to express support for Khalistan.
“Nijjar had publicly spoken of the threat to his life for months and said that he was targeted by Indian intelligence agencies,” the statement said.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Nijjar's attorney based in New York, has stated that Canadian intelligence authorities cautioned Nijjar about the possibility of being targeted for assassination by "mercenaries" prior to his fatal shooting.