Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking before Parliament on Monday, implored the Indian government to fully cooperate with an investigation into a Sikh-Canadian activist’s assassination earlier this year. Canada’s security agencies are looking into possible connections between the Indian authorities and Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s shooting death in June, who was a prominent figure in the Sikh community in British Columbia.
Trudeau confirmed that he personally expressed his “profound concerns” about the allegations to his Indian peer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the recent G20 summit in New Delhi. According to Trudeau, any foreign government involvement in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is a significant breach of the country’s sovereignty.
Nijjar, a consequential Sikh activist, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18. Trudeau has reiterated his call to the Indian government to work hand in hand to reveal the circumstances surrounding Nijjar’s death. The Indian High Commission based in Ottawa has not yet responded to these allegations.
Canada’s Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, disclosed on Monday that an Indian diplomat had been expelled from the country, following the accusations. The expelled diplomat was the head of India’s external intelligence agency, also known as RAW, in Canada. However, Joly did not give further specifics about the official or when the expulsion occurred.
The Globe and Mail newspaper previously reported that Canadian national security authorities possess credible intelligence indicative of India’s involvement in Nijjar’s killing. The relationship between Ottawa and New Delhi are currently strained, a situation exacerbated by this contention as well as issues like a stagnant trade deal and Sikh activism in Canada.
The Indian Prime Minister responded to protest actions by the Sikh community in Canada by expressing “strong concerns” during his meeting with Trudeau at the G20. According to a release from the Indian government, these protests have incited violence against Indian diplomats, damaged diplomatic premises, and threatened the Indian community in Canada, their places of worship and promoted secessionism.
Nijjar was labelled a “terrorist” by the Indian authorities, according to media outlets like the Globe and Mail. His ostensible connection with the Sikhs for Justice group, an organization advocating for an independent Sikh state in India, was another matter of contention. Political leaders across Canada, including Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the opposition Conservative Party, and Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the progressive New Democratic Party, have voiced their criticism of India’s alleged involvement, describing it as an affront to Canada’s sovereignty if true. The investigation into Nijjar’s killing continues, with authorities identifying a vehicle and seeking three suspects believed to be involved.