Canada says Indian government could be behind fatal shooting of Canadian Sikh leader

Trudeau said he had raised his concerns ‘personally and directly’ with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi

Eleanor Noyce
Tuesday 19 September 2023 06:16 BST

Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to Kyiv

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has claimed that the Indian government could be behind the fatal shooting of Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Mr Trudeau told the Canadian parliament on Monday that his country’s security agencies were “actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen”.

He said he had raised his concerns “personally and directly” with India’s prime minister Narendra Modi at the G20 last week.

An Indian diplomat, who was the head of the country’s intelligence agency, has also been expelled from Canada, the Canadian foreign minister said.

India has responded to Mr Trudeau’s statement, calling the allegation “absurd” and “unsubstantiated”. It has said a senior Canadian diplomat will be expelled from India in the next five days as part of a tit-for-tat response.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in his car by masked men outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Colombia, on 18 June.

Justin Trudeau said he had raised his concerns “personally and directly” to the Indian prime minister

India has previously denied any involvement with Mr Nijjar’s murder.

Mr Nijjar was a prominent Sikh leader in British Colombia and a supporter of Khalistan - a separate homeleand for Sikhs in India. He had been accused of being a terrorist by India, something his supporters denied.

Mr Nijjar’s name was reportedly included in a list of wanted men handed to President Trudeau during the prime minister’s visit to India in 2018.

Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government,” Mr Trudeau said in an emergency statement to the House of Commons.

“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.

“As you would expect, we have been working closely and coordinating with our allies on this very serious matter.

“In the strongest possible terms, I continue to urge the Government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter.”

Mr Trudeau offered support to members of the Indo-Canadian community who might be feeling “angry” or “frightened.”

“Let us remain calm and steadfast in our commitment to our democratic principles and our adherence to the rule of law”, he added. “This is who we are, and what we do, as Canadians.”

Canada is home to the largest Sikh diaspora outside the Indian state of Punjab. Hundreds of people protested after Mr Nijjar’s death and they were met by a small counter protest of Indian government supporters.

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