Canada: Trudeau accuses India of involvement in murder of Canadian Sikh, expels diplomat

By Barry Ellsworth

TRENTON, Canada (AA): There are “credible allegations” that the government of India was behind the shooting death of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia (BC), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.

Nijjar, a Sikh leader in the western Canadian province of BC, was shot to death on June 18 in front of a Sikh temple in the city of Surrey. No arrests have been made.

“Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau said, addressing the House of Commons after he spoke with opposition political party leaders.

Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, was a vocal supporter of independence for the Khalistani state in the Punjab region. The Indian government has repeatedly insisted Nijjar was a terrorist – a label his supporters denied – and at the recent G20 summit in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chided Trudeau for allowing Sikh separatist protests in Canada.

Trudeau in turn told Modi that peaceful demonstrations were permitted in democratic Canada. Monday, the prime minister had harsh words for the Indian government.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open, and democratic societies conduct themselves,” Trudeau said. “As you would expect, we have been working closely and coordinating with our allies on this very serious matter.”

Trudeau called for India to participate in the investigation to “get to the bottom of this matter.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said that Canada expelled a “top Indian diplomat” and Canada expects India’s full collaboration “to get to the bottom of this.”

According to the reports, the diplomat was Pavan Kumar Rai, Canadian head of New Delhi’s Research and Analysis Wing, the Indian foreign intelligence agency.

In a tit-for-tat move, India on Tuesday ordered a senior Canadian diplomat in New Delhi to leave the country.

“The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India. The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said the decision reflects the “Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities.”

Earlier in the morning, India rejected accusations of its involvement in any act of violence in Canada, calling them “absurd and motivated,” and urged the Canadian government to take “prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil .”

 The US expressed deep concern Monday over accusations by Canada that link India to the killing of a Canadian Sikh activist.

“We are deeply concerned about the accusations referenced by Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau earlier today,” said White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson in a statement provided to Anadolu.

“We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” said the statement.

Relations with India were already strained to the point that two weeks ago, the Canadian government postponed a trade mission to India slated for Oct. 9.

[Map of India from CIA Fact Book/Public Domain]

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