New Delhi on Tuesday rejected “absurd and motivated” accusations by the Canadian government alleging that Indian agents were involved in the killing of Khalistan separatist movement leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen.
The move comes after the Canadian government opted to expel a senior Indian diplomat on Monday amid Ottawa’s investigation into what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as credible allegations that the Indian government might have had connections to the killing of a Khalistani activist. Nijjar, an outspoken supporter of the Khalistan movement that seeks an independent Sikh homeland in the Punjab region of India, was shot on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an urgent address to lawmakers in Parliament Monday afternoon informing them Canada’s security agencies have been pursuing for weeks “credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India” and the killing of Nijjar on Canadian soil.
“Allegations of [the] Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement. It added that “such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern.”
New Delhi has further stated that the fact that Canadian political figures “openly expressed sympathy for such elements” remains a matter of “deep concern”.
“The space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organized crime is not new. We reject any attempts to connect Government of India to such developments. We urge the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” the statement read.
Earlier on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced the head of Indian intelligence in Canada has been expelled as a consequence of India’s alleged involvement in the attack and “If proven true this would be a great violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other,” Joly said, according to AP.
The move comes days after Canada c a trade mission to India and the Indian government a that the crucial trade talks between the two nations had been frozen over “certain issues”. During the G20 leaders summit in New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Modi conveyed his “strong concerns” to Trudeau regarding Canada’s approach to the Khalistan activism, India’s Ministry of External Affairs noted on September 10.
In July, New Delhi summoned the Canadian High Commissioner over the posters released by pro-Khalistan supporters ahead of the ‘Freedom Rally’ outside the Indian consulates in Toronto and Vancouver. The posters labeled Indian diplomats as “killers” and sparked outrage among the Punjabi diaspora in Canada. Ottawa then termed the posters “unacceptable” and stated it took its obligations regarding safety of diplomats “very seriously”.