Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has accused India of being involved in the killing of a Canadian Sikh leader named Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead in June in British Columbia. Trudeau said Canadian intelligence had found a credible link between Nijjar’s death and the Indian government.
Trudeau stated that Canadian authorities were investigating whether agents of the Indian government were responsible for Nijjar’s killing, which took place in a suburb of Vancouver with a large Sikh community. He emphasized that any foreign government’s involvement in a Canadian citizen’s killing on Canadian soil is a violation of Canada’s sovereignty.
Melanie Joly, the foreign minister, stated, “Therefore, today we have expelled a senior Indian diplomat from Canada,” she said without mentioning the official by name.
In response to Trudeau’s allegations, the Indian government dismissed these claims as absurd and motivated. India stressed its commitment to the rule of law and denied any involvement in the killing.
The White House also expressed concern about Trudeau’s allegations and urged Canada to continue its investigation to bring the culprits to justice.
“We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.
Relations between India and Canada have been strained for some time. In 2020, India accused Canada of interfering in its internal affairs regarding agricultural reforms. Talks on a planned free trade agreement between the two countries were paused due to that.
Canada is home to 800,000 Sikhs, and some Sikh Canadians support the Khalistan independence movement, seeking a separate state in India’s Punjab region. India condemns this movement and accuses Canada of sheltering Sikh separatists, whom it refers to as terrorists and threats to its sovereignty.
The Indian government had previously accused Nijjar, a Sikh nationalist, of terrorism and had offered rewards for his arrest. Nijjar denied these allegations and claimed his activism was peaceful and protected by Canadian law. The World Sikh Organization of Canada called Nijjar’s killing an “assassination” and called for an investigation into India’s role.
British Columbia police identified three suspects in Nijjar’s killing, but no arrests have been made. Canadian politicians, including Jagmeet Singh, have expressed their determination to seek justice and hold the Indian government accountable.
Protests supporting the Khalistan movement in Canada and other places have angered India’s government, leading to attacks on Indian diplomatic missions. In response, India summoned Canada’s high commissioner in New Delhi after protesters organised a “Khalistan freedom rally.