Updated September 19, 2023 at 03:13 amEDT
On Tuesday, the Indian government dismissed accusations of involvement in the assassination of a Sikh leader on Canadian soil and expelled a Canadian diplomat from the country in response to a similar move by the Canadian government a day earlier.
The Ministry of External Affairs of India issued a statement on Tuesday rejected allegations that his “agents” were involved in the assassination of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, saying the claims were “absurd and motivated.”
New Delhi claimed that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made “similar allegations” to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had also “completely rejected” them.
The Indian government also announced that it was expelling a Canadian diplomat from the country, saying he was concerned about “the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal affairs and their involvement in anti-India activities.”
In his speech to Parliament on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying The country’s security agencies were investigating “credible allegations” about links between “agents of the government of India” and the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, a Sikh-Canadian leader who was born in the northern Indian state of Punjab, had been designated a “terrorist” by his country of birth for supporting the formation of a Sikh homeland independent of Khalistan.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said a senior Indian diplomat, who she said worked for India’s intelligence agency, was expelled from the country as a result of the incident.
In its statement, India’s Ministry of External Affairs wrote: “These baseless allegations seek to divert attention from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided refuge in Canada and continue to threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. The Canadian Government’s inaction on this matter has been a long-standing and ongoing concern. That Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a cause of deep concern.”
Speaking on the matter on Monday, Trudeau said: “Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty… In the strongest possible terms, I continue to urge the government of India to “We have to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter.”
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Monday that Washington was “deeply concerned” by the allegations raised by Trudeau and said she hopes the perpetrators will be brought to justice. President Joe Biden has sought closer ties with India, considering it a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region as a counterweight to China.