Canada expelled India’s top intelligence agent in the country, according to Foreign Minister Melanie Joly
Canada has announced that it is actively investigating credible allegations linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in British Columbia in June.
This revelation has strained diplomatic ties between the two countries, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in an emergency statement to the House of Commons, emphasized that any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen constitutes an unacceptable violation of their sovereignty.
Nijjar, a supporter of an independent Khalistani state, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb known for its sizable Sikh population. India had designated Nijjar as a “terrorist” in July 2020.
Trudeau disclosed that Canadian security agencies are actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Indian government and Nijjar’s death.
He also mentioned that he had personally discussed the murder with Indian Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi during the G20 summit in New Delhi and urged India to cooperate in resolving the matter.
As a response to these developments, Canada expelled India’s top intelligence agent in the country, according to Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, although specific details were not provided. The Indian high commission in Ottawa did not comment on the matter.
These events mark a significant escalation in tensions between Canada and India, with New Delhi expressing displeasure over Sikh separatist activities within Canada. Modi conveyed his concerns to Trudeau at the G20 summit regarding recent Sikh demonstrations in Canada advocating for an independent state. These diplomatic strains are now affecting trade relations, with talks on a proposed trade deal halted.
Canada’s trade with India in 2022 amounted to $10.2 billion, a relatively small portion of Canada’s total trade. The U.S. National Security Council also expressed concern over the allegations mentioned by Prime Minister Trudeau.
It’s important to note that Trudeau did not directly accuse India of involvement in the murder, and Foreign Minister Joly used cautious language, stating that if the allegations were proven true, they would be unacceptable.
The murder investigation, led by British Columbia’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, identified three suspects, but no arrests have been made thus far.
Canada is home to a significant Sikh population, with the highest number of Sikhs outside of Punjab in India. The country has been a site of various demonstrations that have been a source of concern for India. Additionally, Canada has a substantial Indian-origin community, numbering about 1.4 million out of a population of 40 million.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc noted that several senior Canadian government officials have visited India recently to express Canada’s concerns.