Canada 'pursuing evidence' linking Indian agents to exile's murder

Indian diplomat allegedly connected to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar has been expelled, Canadian Foreign Minister says

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the recent G20 summit in New Delhi. Reuters
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Canada is investigating “credible allegations” that Indian agents may have had a role in the killing of an exiled Sikh leader near Vancouver in June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

Mr Trudeau told an emergency session of the parliamentary opposition that his government was “actively pursuing” evidence of a link between India and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen.

“The involvement of any foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Mr Trudeau said.

He called on the Indian government “in the strongest possible terms” to co-operate in clearing up the matter.

Mr Nijjar, who India had declared a wanted terrorist, was killed on June 18 in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver that is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in Canada.

He advocated the creation of an independent Sikh state to be carved out of parts of northern India and perhaps part of Pakistan. India accused Mr Nijjar of carrying out terrorist attacks in India, a charge he denied.

Tension between India and Canada has been simmering over the unsolved killing, and Indian unhappiness over how Ottawa has handled right-wing Sikh separatists.

New Delhi accuses Ottawa of turning a blind eye to the activities of radical Sikh nationalists who seek a separate homeland in northern India.

Canada also expelled an Indian diplomat believed to have a credible link to the murder, Canada's Foreign Minister said.

“Allegations that a representative of a foreign government may have been involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen here in Canada, on Canadian soil … are totally unacceptable,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said.

“Therefore, today we have expelled a senior Indian diplomat from Canada.”

Tension flared further during the G20 summit in New Delhi, which Mr Trudeau attended.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada” during a meeting with Mr Trudeau, according to an Indian government statement.

Canada also recently suspended negotiations for a free trade agreement with India.

Mr Trudeau later told media that Canada would always defend “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of peaceful protest” while acting against hatred.

Updated: September 18, 2023, 10:26 PM