HomeIndiaJustin Trudeau accuses India of murder on Canadian soil

Justin Trudeau accuses India of murder on Canadian soil

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said Monday that “agents of the Indian government” carried out the murder of a Sikh community leader in British Columbia in June, an explosive allegation that is likely to further worsen relations between the two. nations.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Trudeau said he had raised India’s participation in the Hardeep Singh Nijjar shooting directly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Group of 20 summit earlier this month “in no uncertain terms.” He said the allegation was based on intelligence gathered by the Canadian government.

“Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau told lawmakers. He said Canada would pressure India to cooperate with the investigation into the murder of Nijjar, who advocated Sikh separatism.

Mélanie Joly, the foreign minister, later announced that Canada had expelled an Indian diplomat whom she described as the head of India’s intelligence agency in Canada.

Trudeau said many Canadians of Indian origin (who make up about 4 per cent of the population) had been angered by the killing and, in some cases, feared for their personal safety. There are about 1.4 million Canadians of Indian descent, many of whom are Sikhs, and their number includes Jagmeet Singh, leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, which keeps Trudeau’s minority government in power. Singh is a common surname and middle name in Punjab.

The allegation that the Indian government was involved in a political assassination in Canada is likely to further corrode relations between the two countries. Earlier this month, Canada suspended negotiations on a trade deal with India that were due to conclude this year (now apparently because of the murder allegations). During the G20, Modi excluded Trudeau from the list of leaders with whom he held formal bilateral meetings.

The Indian diplomatic mission in Ottawa did not respond to requests for comment.

Nijjar, 45, was shot near a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia. At a news conference in June, Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators said he had been ambushed by masked men, but did not say whether the attack appeared to be politically motivated.

Nijjar was known for his advocacy of the creation of an independent Sikh nation, Khalistan, which would include parts of the Indian state of Punjab, and India had declared him a wanted terrorist.

Citing the police investigation, neither Ms. Joly nor Dominic LeBlanc, the public safety minister, offered any details about Indian involvement in the killing. But LeBlanc said Jody Thomas, Trudeau’s national security adviser as well as head of Canada’s intelligence service, had traveled in recent weeks “to confront Indian intelligence agencies with these allegations.”

It was not clear from the two ministers’ comments how forthcoming the Indian government has been or what cooperation, if any, it has offered.

Joly said he planned to discuss India’s actions during meetings with Canada’s allies after his trip to New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly.

The announcement came the same day a judge opened a public investigation into foreign government interference. It was motivated by accusations that China is meddling in Canadian politics, but LeBlanc said reviewing India’s actions is within the investigation’s mandate. “Obviously these allegations are of a much more serious level,” he said.

Nijjar spoke openly about the threats to his life, which were shared with Canada’s spy agency, the non-profit World Sikh Organization of Canada said in a statement.

“If these allegations are true, they represent an outrageous affront to Canada’s sovereignty,” said Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party. “Our citizens must be safe from extrajudicial executions of all kinds, especially from foreign governments.”

Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party, broke protocol to address the House of Commons in Punjabi as well as English and said he had spoken to Nijjar’s son. “I could hear the pain of that loss in his voice,” Singh said. “I can only imagine how much more painful it will be to learn about this potential connection.”

Rumors about possible Indian retaliation against critics of its government have stoked fear within the Sikh expatriate community and deterred many from returning to that country, Singh said. But Canada, he said, had been seen as “a beacon of security.”

“That security that so many Canadians feel now has been shaken,” he said.

Sikhs are a relatively small religious group, with around 25 million followers worldwide, most of them in India.

A violent Sikh insurgency that took shape in India in the 1980s killed several government officials. The government responded with widespread human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial executions. according to human rights groups.

In 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent the army to Storm the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest site of Sikhism, which had been fortified by heavily armed Sikh militants. The government said hundreds of people were killed in the clash, but others put the death toll in the thousands.

In retaliation, two of the prime minister’s Sikh bodyguards murdered her, sparking riots in which thousands of Sikhs died.

In 1985, a bomb exploded on an Air India flight from Toronto to London, killing all 329 people on board. It remains Canada’s deadliest terrorist attack and worst mass murder.

After a lengthy investigation and trial, two British Columbia Sikh separatists were acquitted in 2005 for murder and conspiracy in that explosion, as well as for a second explosion that killed two baggage handlers in Japan. Many witnesses had died (some were murdered) or had apparently been intimidated from testifying. Wiretaps conducted by Canada’s intelligence agency were deleted before they could be used as evidence and physical evidence was destroyed in the explosion.

A third Sikh man was convicted of manslaughter for his role in making the bombs and later of perjury in the murder trial.

About a year ago, Ripudaman Singh Malik, one of the men acquitted in 2005, was shot dead. Two men were later arrested, but the murder shook the Sikh community in British Columbia.

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