Amid rising tensions over the murder of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, India has resolved to oust a Canadian diplomat.
India’s government has registered its discontent with Ottawa for expelling one of its diplomats and has categorically denied any link to the Canadian activist’s murder earlier this year, describing the claims as “absurd.”
‘The decision reflects the government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,’ India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
‘The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days.’
This statement follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s assertion that there were “credible allegations” implicating the Indian government in the assassination of Mr. Nijjar earlier this year.
On June 18th, a Canadian citizen was tragically killed in a shooting incident outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia.
He had gained prominence as a staunch supporter of the Khalistani separatist movement, which seeks to secure an independent Sikh homeland in India, despite their minority status.
Mr. Nijjar was actively involved in planning an unsanctioned referendum in India, aiming to achieve an independent Sikh nation, when he passed away.
In addition to Prime Minister Trudeau’s remarks, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly revealed that the chief of Indian intelligence in Canada had been expelled in light of these accusations.
The Indian government said it ‘completely rejected’ the allegations, and added: ‘We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law.’
‘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.’
‘The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern.’
‘We reject any attempts to connect the government of India to such developments.’
The mutual expulsions have transpired at a time when Canada and India, both G20 nations, are experiencing strained diplomatic relations.
The trade negotiations between these countries have become problematic, resulting in Canada’s cancellation of a trade mission to India scheduled for the autumn.
Speaking in parliament, Mr. Trudeau stated that he had addressed the killing with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit just last week.
Furthermore, he made it clear that he had told Mr. Modi that any potential involvement by the Indian government would be unacceptable and had urged cooperation in the ongoing investigation.