OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned the Indian government to treat with the utmost seriousness the allegations of its involvement in the murder of Sikh community leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen. This comes as India categorically denied any role in the murder of Nijjar, with both nations now engaged in a diplomatic dispute.
Trudeau’s remarks were made during a press conference held on Tuesday morning ahead of a cabinet meeting, where he emphasized that the Canadian government was not seeking to provoke or escalate tensions but was merely presenting the facts as understood by Canadian intelligence agencies.
The allegations stem from Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on Monday, where he disclosed that Canadian intelligence had credible information suggesting that Indian government agents were connected to the murder of the Sikh leader. Hardeep Singh Nijjar was fatally shot by two masked assailants while leaving his Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., on June 18. He served as the president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and was a vocal advocate for Khalistan, a separate state for Sikhs in India, a movement India views as a national security threat.
India swiftly denied these allegations, releasing a statement from its foreign ministry that rejected Trudeau’s claims, describing them as “absurd and motivated.” The statement further emphasized that any accusations of Indian government involvement in acts of violence in Canada were baseless.
Diplomatic Row Between India and Canada
Trudeau’s announcement came shortly after the Globe and Mail published a story citing security sources, which revealed the information. In response, Trudeau defended the decision to make these allegations public, stating, “Canadians have a right to know when things like this are going on,” and added that they wanted to ensure they had thoroughly communicated their concerns to the Indian government and their allies.
In a move that escalates the situation, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced on Monday that an Indian diplomat, identified as the head of India’s intelligence service in Canada, would be expelled from the country. India responded by giving a Canadian diplomat five days to leave India. India’s government argued that Canada has been too tolerant of individuals advocating for Khalistan.
My statement on allegations surrounding the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. pic.twitter.com/auIyj194A8
— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) September 19, 2023
In its statement, India emphasized, “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.”
Trudeau stated that Canada’s response would be measured, and he intended to continue discussing the matter with world leaders while remaining grounded in democratic principles and values.