Canadian Prime Minister (PM), Justin Trudeau, recently voiced strong concerns regarding the likely involvement of the Indian government in the assassination of a Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Canada.
Nijjar, known for his advocacy for a separate Sikh state in India, Khalistan, was killed outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia in June this year.
Trudeau further noted that he raised this issue directly to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, at the G20 Summit held in New Delhi last week.
Trudeau’s remarks come amidst a backdrop of tension, as Nijjar was an influential figure in the Khalistani movement—a group pushing for an independent Sikh state in India, where Sikhs form a minority and faces persecution at the hands of the majority.
It’s worth noting that India has banned Khalistani groups, citing national security. Moreover, there have been instances where the Indian government and its state-controlled media have labeled Nijjar as a “terrorist”.
Elaborating on his concerns, Trudeau revealed in the Canadian House of Commons that there have been serious allegations pointing towards agents of the Indian government being linked to Nijjar’s assassination.
He stressed the grave implications of any foreign government orchestrating such acts on Canadian soil, terming it a breach of Canada’s sovereignty.
Further intensifying the diplomatic strain, Canadian Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, announced the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat, Head of Indian Intelligence in Canada.
Despite the serious nature of the accusations, the Indian government has denied any involvement. It stated that such claims were absurd and had political motivations.
India expressed concerns over Khalistani leaders in Canada, accusing the Canadian government of providing shelter to them and being inactive about it.
It further lamented the sympathetic stance of certain Canadian political figures towards these groups.
Canadian authorities are searching for two individuals believed to be directly linked to Nijjar’s murder, along with an accomplice who might have assisted their escape.