Receive free Canada updates
we will send you myFT Daily Digest Email summary of latest information Canada There is news every morning.
Canada’s prime minister says there are “credible allegations” that the Indian government was involved in the shooting death of a prominent Sikh leader in British Columbia in June.
Justin Trudeau’s accusations triggered a hostile response from New Delhi and a round of diplomatic expulsions, deepening the rift between the two G20 countries.
Citing intelligence from national security agencies, Trudeau told MPs on Monday that Canadian authorities were investigating whether “agents” in New Delhi were behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey in June. Surrey is a suburb of Vancouver with a large Sikh community.
“Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of possible links between Indian government agents and the killings of Canadian citizens,” Trudeau said. “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of Canadian citizens on Canadian soil is a violation of An unacceptable infringement of our sovereignty.”
Trudeau told parliament he raised the allegations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit in New Delhi last week.
A senior Indian diplomat was expelled from Canada on Monday, Foreign Minister Melanie Jolly said. “We will always protect Canadians,” Jolly told reporters. “We hope India will cooperate to get to the bottom of this matter.”
The Indian government on Tuesday dismissed Trudeau’s statement and Jolly’s remarks as “ridiculous and motivated.”
“Similar accusations were made by the Prime Minister of Canada to our Prime Minister and were completely rejected,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. “We are a democracy with a strong commitment to the rule of law.”
The Indian government also said it had asked a senior Canadian diplomat to leave the country. “This decision reflects [the] The Indian government is increasingly concerned about Canadian diplomats interfering in our internal affairs and engaging in anti-India activities,” New Delhi said.
Relations between India and Canada have long been tense, as has the personal relationship between the two prime ministers. In 2020, New Delhi accused Ottawa of interfering after Trudeau spoke out in support of protesting farmers to pressure Modi to abandon planned farm law reforms. The two countries suspended negotiations on a planned free trade agreement last week.
There are nearly 800,000 Sikhs in Canada, many of whom live in Surrey and the Toronto suburb of Brampton. Some Canadian Sikhs support the Khalistani independence movement, which seeks to establish a sovereign state in the northern Indian state of Punjab.
The Indian government has condemned the movement and has long accused Canada of harboring Sikh separatists, describing them on Tuesday as “Khalistan terrorists and extremists” who “continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“It remains deeply concerning that Canadian politicians have publicly expressed sympathy for these individuals,” New Delhi said.
The Indian government has accused Sikh nationalist Nijar of terrorism and offered a reward for his arrest. In 2016, Nijar wrote a letter to Trudeau calling New Delhi’s accusations baseless and saying his actions were “peaceful, democratic and protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Canada’s World Sikh Organization called Nijar’s killing at the Gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship where Nijar once served as president, an “assassination” and urged Ottawa to investigate India’s role. British Columbia Provincial Police said last month that three suspects have been identified but have not yet been identified. No one was arrested.
Canada’s New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, said on X (formerly Twitter) that he would “sparse no effort in the pursuit of justice, including holding Narendra Modi accountable.”
Pro-Khalistan protests in Canada and elsewhere this year have angered Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, with supporters of the movement attacking New Delhi’s diplomatic missions in San Francisco and London.
In July, India summoned the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi after protesters organized the “Khalistan Freedom Rally” in Toronto and issued threats to Indian diplomats, accusing them of involvement in Nijar’s death.