Canada has expelled a top Indian diplomat as it investigates allegations of government links to the assassination of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in Parliament that Canadian intelligence agencies have been looking into the matter. Trudeau raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi and emphasized that any Indian government involvement would be unacceptable. In response, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced the expulsion of the head of Indian intelligence in Canada. India’s foreign ministry dismissed the allegations as “absurd and motivated.”
The expulsion comes at a time of tense relations between Canada and India, with trade talks derailed and a canceled trade mission. During their meeting at the G20 summit, Modi expressed concerns over Canada’s handling of the Punjabi independence movement among overseas Sikhs, which India sees as a security threat. The Khalistan movement, advocating for an independent Sikh homeland, is banned in India but has support in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom with sizable Sikh diasporas.
Trudeau declared deep concerns to the Indian government and called for cooperation in the investigation. Canada’s national security adviser and the head of its spy service have traveled to India to confront Indian intelligence agencies with the allegations. The investigation is being led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Trudeau also raised the matter with U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The White House expressed deep concern and emphasized the need for the investigation to proceed and the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Opposition leader Jagmeet Singh, who is Sikh himself, called the allegations outrageous and shocking. The World Sikh Organization of Canada described Nijjar as an outspoken supporter of Khalistan and called for a thorough investigation.
The Canadian government is being urged to share all information related to ongoing foreign interference and transnational organized crime threats. British Columbia Premier David Eby expressed deep disturbance over the assassination and called for increased information sharing.