In an expected diplomatic move, Canada on Monday expelled New Delhi’s head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)— India's foreign intelligence agency—stationed in Ottawa accusing India’s involvement in the killing of a Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
The already strained relations between Ottawa and New Delhi took a dramatic new low.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's remarks
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed an emergency session of the parliamentary opposition that his government had credible evidence linking Indian agents to the killing of Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in June in British Columbia.
He called in the strongest possible terms for the Indian government to cooperate in clearing up the matter.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. Extrajudicial action by a foreign nation is an unacceptable violation of sovereignty. A high ranking Indian diplomat has been expelled. We are a country of laws, the investigation is ongoing and we will have justice. pic.twitter.com/Il5x0Il737— Iqwinder S. Gaheer (@IqwinderSGaheer) September 18, 2023
Trudeau said: “Canadian security agencies have spent the last several weeks actively pursuing credible allegations” that agents of the government of India were responsible for Nijjar’s death. I also raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the recent G20 meetings personally and directly.”
“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. Canada declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government last week at the G20. I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi,” he said.
“Canada is a rule of law country. The protection of our citizens and defence of our sovereignty are fundamental.”
Canada Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie said the Trudeau government had taken immediate action. She said: "Today we have expelled a senior Indian diplomat from Canada.”
Nijjar was shot dead on June 18 in Surrey—a suburb of Vancouver that is home to a major Sikh community.
Canada now accused India of cooperating in the unsolved murder.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Canadian PM Trudeau and expressed strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities in Canada.
My statement on allegations surrounding the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. pic.twitter.com/auIyj194A8— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) September 19, 2023
India dismisses Canada's allegations
Reuters reported that India characterised as absurd and motivated an accusation by Canada that it was involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, urging the country instead to take legal action against anti-Indian elements operating from its soil.
India's foreign ministry said on Tuesday, "Allegations of the government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated.”
Similar accusations made by Trudeau to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been "completely rejected", it added in a statement.
"We urge the government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil," the ministry said.
Such unsubstantiated allegations sought to shift the focus away from Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have been provided shelter in Canada", it added.
India also expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's charge that it played a role in the June killing of a Khalistani terrorist.
The diplomat, who is unnamed, has five days to leave the country.
Canada suspends free FTA with India
Canada had also suspended the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India.
Trudeau later told the media that Canada would always defend ‘freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of peaceful protest’ while acting against hatred.
Reuters reported that Britain said on Tuesday it was in close touch with its Canadian partners about "serious allegations" from Ottawa that the Indian government was involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada. "We are in close touch with our Canadian partners about these serious allegations," a government spokesperson said.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further during the ongoing investigation by the Canadian authorities." Advertisement · Scroll to continue Report this ad Canada said on Monday it was "actively pursuing credible allegations" that linked Indian government agents to Hardeep Singh Nijjar's murder in British Columbia in June. India dismissed the accusation as "absurd and motivated" and urged Canada instead to take legal action against anti-Indian elements operating from its soil.
Canada also expelled India's top intelligence agent in the country, while New Delhi expelled a Canadian diplomat.