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The Canadian prime minister said there were “credible allegations” that the Indian government was involved in the fatal shooting of a prominent Sikh leader in British Columbia, citing national security intelligence.
Justin Trudeau told MPs on Monday that Canadian authorities were investigating whether New Delhi “agents” were behind the June murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh community.
“Canadian security agencies are actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between Indian government agents and the murder of a Canadian citizen,” Trudeau said. “Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil constitutes an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. »
A senior Indian diplomat was also expelled from Canada on Monday, said Mélanie Joly, the country’s foreign minister. “We will protect Canadians at all times,” Joly told reporters. “We hope that India will cooperate fully to get to the bottom of this.”
Trudeau was in India last week for the G20 summit and told Parliament he had taken the allegations to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The measures taken by Ottawa could worsen the already tense relations between the two countries. Canada’s trade minister last week postponed a trade mission to Mumbai scheduled for October, without giving a reason.
Canada is home to nearly 800,000 Sikhs, many of whom live in Surrey and Brampton, a suburb just outside Toronto. Some Sikh Canadians support the Khalistan independence movement, which would create a sovereign state in Punjab in northern India. The Indian government strongly opposes this move.
Modi, often described as a Hindu nationalist, spoke with Trudeau last week at the G20 summit. Subsequently, Modi’s office described pro-Khalistan protests in Canada as “promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises and threatening the Indian community in Canada.”
The Indian government had accused Najjar, a Sikh nationalist, of terrorism and blacklisted him. He also set up bounties for his arrest. In 2016, Najjar wrote a letter to Trudeau calling India’s allegations baseless and saying his activism was “peaceful, democratic and protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
After Najjar was killed on the grounds of the gurdwara – a Sikh place of worship – of which he was president, the World Sikh Organization of Canada called his death an “assassination” and urged Ottawa to investigate the role of the India in this murder. British Columbia police said last month they had identified three suspects in the killing, although they have not been identified. No arrests have been made.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and a Sikh, said on