In a high-stakes development, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused the government of India of involvement in the fatal shooting of a Canadian Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar was brazenly shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18, reigniting tensions in an already fragile bilateral relationship.
Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and supporter of a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state, had been labeled as a “terrorist” by the Indian government and accused of leading a militant separatist group—an accusation vehemently denied by his supporters.
Trudeau made the startling announcement that Canada’s national security apparatus had credible reasons to believe that “agents of the Indian government” were responsible for Nijjar’s killing. Nijjar also served as the president of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara.
“Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau stated during a speech to the House of Commons. He went on to emphasize the severity of foreign government involvement in a Canadian citizen’s killing on Canadian soil, calling it “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
Trudeau has taken the matter seriously, informing leaders of Canada’s closest allies, including U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, and U.S. President Joe Biden. He also urged the Indian government to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
However, India swiftly rejected Trudeau’s allegations, dismissing them as “absurd” and emphasizing their concern about Khalistani terrorists and extremists finding shelter in Canada while threatening India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Trudeau’s actions have further heightened diplomatic tensions, with Canada expelling a senior Indian diplomat, Pavan Kumar Rai, who headed India’s foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), in Canada. In retaliation, India has expelled a Canadian diplomat with a five-day notice to leave the country.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly emphasized the need for India to cooperate fully in the investigation. In a statement, India’s foreign ministry accused Canadian diplomats of interference in India’s internal matters and involvement in “anti-India activities.”
As tensions rise and allegations fly between the two nations, the international community watches closely, hoping for a peaceful resolution to this increasingly complex diplomatic situation.