Canada said on Monday that it was “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to the June assassination of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia, a blow to bilateral relations.
In an extraordinary statement to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that any involvement of a foreign government in the execution of a Canadian citizen was an “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a sizable Sikh community, on June 18. Nijjar advocated for a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state and was labeled a “terrorist” by India in July 2020.
Trudeau stated that “Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India” and Nijjar’s killing.
He stated that he discussed the assassination with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the margins of the G20 conference in New Delhi last week, and encouraged the Indian government to “cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter.”
“Canada has expressed grave concern to the Indian government’s top intelligence and security officials.” “I brought them to Prime Minister Modi personally and directly last week at the G20,” he claimed.
Canada also released India’s top intelligence agent in the country on Monday, according to Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, who did not provide further specifics. Requests for comment were not returned by the Indian High Commission in Ottawa.
Trudeau’s remarks reflect a significant escalation in tensions between Canada and the world’s largest democracy, with New Delhi dissatisfied with Canadian Sikh separatist movement.
Modi expressed his deep concern to Trudeau at the G20 meeting about recent Sikh demonstrations in Canada asking for an independent state.