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India could be behind killing of Canadian Sikh: Trudeau

"Involvement of any foreign government in murder of Canadian citizen on its soil is unacceptable violation of sovereignty," says PM Canada

By AFP
September 19, 2023
Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. — Photo by reporter Murtaza Ali Shah
Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. — Photo by reporter Murtaza Ali Shah

OTTAWA: Canada is probing “credible allegations” that Indian agents may have had a role in the slaying of an exiled Sikh leader in June near Vancouver, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

Trudeau told an emergency session of the parliamentary opposition that his government is “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,” Trudeau said.

He called “in the strongest possible terms” on the Indian government to cooperate in clearing up the matter. Nijjar, whom India had declared a wanted terrorist, was gunned down on June 18 in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver that is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in Canada.

Nijjar advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state to be carved out of parts of northern India. India accused Nijjar of carrying out terrorist attacks in India, a charge he denied.

Tensions between India and Canada have been simmering over the unsolved slaying, 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 Sikh nationalists who seek a separate Sikh homeland in northern India.

The tensions flared further during the G20 summit in New Delhi, which Trudeau attended. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada” during a meeting with Trudeau, according to an Indian government statement.

Canada also expelled an Indian diplomat believed to have a credible link to the murder of a Sikh leader in western Canada last June, 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,” she added without naming the diplomat.