Wed. Oct 4th, 2023


Canada expelled a high Indian diplomat because it investigates what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau known as credible allegations its authorities could have had hyperlinks to the assassination in Canada of a Sikh activist, an accusation that India rejected as “absurd” on Tuesday.

Trudeau mentioned in Parliament on Monday that Canadian intelligence businesses have been trying into the allegations after Sikh chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a powerful supporter of an unbiased Sikh homeland, was gunned down on June 18 exterior a Sikh cultural middle in Surrey, British Columbia.

Nijjar was organizing an unofficial referendum in India for an unbiased Sikh state on the time of this dying. Indian authorities introduced a money reward final 12 months for info resulting in Nijjar’s arrest, accusing him of involvement in an alleged assault on a Hindu priest in India.

The Sikh independence, or Khalistan, motion is banned in India, the place officers see it and affiliated teams as a nationwide safety menace. Nevertheless it motion nonetheless has some help in northern India, in addition to nations like Canada and the UK that are dwelling to a large Sikh diaspora.

Trudeau informed Parliament that he introduced up the slaying with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the G20 final week. He mentioned he informed Modi that any Indian authorities involvement could be unacceptable and that he requested for cooperation within the investigation.

“Any involvement of a international authorities within the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he mentioned. “Within the strongest doable phrases I proceed to induce the federal government of India to cooperate with Canada to resolve this matter.”

On Tuesday, India’s international ministry launched an announcement dismissing the allegation as “absurd and motivated.” The ministry’s added that Trudeau made comparable allegations to Modi on the latest G20 summit.

“Such unsubstantiated allegations search to shift the main target from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who’ve been supplied shelter in Canada and proceed to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the assertion famous, referring to the proposed identify of a Sikh homeland.

Canadian Overseas Minister Mélanie Joly mentioned a high diplomat, who she mentioned was the top of Indian intelligence in Canada, has been expelled as a consequence.

“If confirmed true this is able to be an amazing violation of our sovereignty and of probably the most fundamental rule of how nations take care of one another,” Joly mentioned. “As a consequence we’ve expelled a high Indian diplomat.”

The expulsion comes as relations between Canada and India are tense. Commerce talks have been derailed and Canada simply canceled a commerce mission to India that was deliberate for the autumn.

On the G20 assembly, Modi expressed “sturdy issues” over Canada’s dealing with of the Punjabi independence motion among the many abroad Sikhs throughout a gathering with Trudeau on the G20, in keeping with India’s response, launched by India’s Ministry of Exterior Affairs

The assertion described the Sikh motion as “selling secessionism and inciting violence” in opposition to Indian diplomats. It known as on Canada to work with India on what New Delhi mentioned is a menace to the Canadian Indian diaspora.

Canada has a Sikh inhabitants of greater than 770,000, or about 2% of its complete inhabitants.

Public Security Minister Dominic LeBlanc mentioned Canada’s nationwide safety adviser and the top of Canada’s spy service have travelled to India to fulfill their counterparts and to confront the Indian intelligence businesses with the allegations.

He known as it an energetic murder investigation led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Joly mentioned Trudeau additionally raised the matter with U.S. President Joe Biden and U.Ok. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“We’re deeply involved in regards to the allegations referenced by Prime Minister Trudeau,” White Home Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson. “We stay in common contact with our Canadian companions. It’s essential that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be delivered to justice.”

Joly additionally mentioned she would elevate the problem together with her friends within the G7 on Monday night in New York Metropolis forward of the United Nations Basic Meeting.

Canadian opposition New Democrat chief Jagmeet Singh, who’s himself Sikh, known as it outrageous and surprising. Singh mentioned he grew up listening to tales that difficult India’s document on human rights may stop you from getting a visa to journey there.

“However to listen to the prime minister of Canada corroborate a possible hyperlink between a homicide of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a international authorities is one thing I may by no means have imagined,” Singh mentioned.

British Columbia Premier David Eby mentioned he’s obtained a briefing from Canada’s spy company in regards to the “assassination” of Nijjar and he’s “deeply disturbed” by what he was informed.

The World Sikh Group of Canada known as Nijjar an outspoken supporter of Khalistan who “usually led peaceable protests in opposition to the violation of human rights actively happening in India and in help of Khalistan.”

“Nijjar had publicly spoken of the menace to his life for months and mentioned that he was focused by Indian intelligence businesses,” the assertion mentioned.

Nijjar’s New York-based lawyer, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, has mentioned Nijjar was warned by Canadian intelligence officers about being focused for assassination by “mercenaries” earlier than he was gunned down.

Janice Stein, a political scientist and worldwide relations knowledgeable on the College of Toronto, mentioned to kill a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is astounding.

“It’s tragic for Canada as a result of we’ve problems with international interference with the 2 largest economies in Asia, China and India. And we’ve two very giant diaspora from each nations. This isn’t what we wish,” Stein mentioned.

Indian authorities have cracked down on Sikh separatism through the years, after an armed insurgency within the Nineteen Eighties for an unbiased Sikh state known as Khalistan took off in Punjab state. It prompted a controversial army operation by the Indian authorities that killed 1000’s of individuals, in keeping with official estimates.

When farmers camped out on the perimeters of New Delhi to protest agriculture legal guidelines in 2021, Modi’s authorities initially tried to discredit Sikh individuals by dismissing their issues by calling them “Khalistanis.”

Police additionally arrested a 22-year-old local weather activist that 12 months for supporting the farmers and sharing a doc on social media that they alleged incited the protesters to show violent, and accused her of being in contact with Sikh independence supporters.

In April, Indian police arrested a pacesetter who had turn into standard for speeches that known as for an unbiased Sikh homeland after a month-long hunt.


Related Press journalist Aamer Madhani contributed to this report from New York.

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