Canada expelled a top Indian diplomat in relation to the killing of pro-Khalistan activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in that country. Canada is investigating what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called ‘credible allegations’ that the Indian government may have had links to the assassination of Nijjar.
Trudeau said in Parliament that the country’s intelligence agencies had been investigating the allegations after the Sikh leader was gunned down on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, British Columbia.
Trudeau said that he brought up the slaying with Indian PM Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit in Delhi. “I told PM Modi that any Indian government involvement would be unacceptable and asked for cooperation in the investigation.”
The expulsion comes as relations between Canada and India are tense. Canada just canceled a trade mission to India that was planned for the fall.
Currently, Canada has a Sikh population of more than 770,000, or about 2% of its total population.
“Over the past number of weeks 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 said.
The Khalistan movement is banned in India, where officials see it and affiliated groups as a national security threat. But the movement still has some support in northern India, as well as beyond, in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom which are home to a sizable Sikh diaspora.
Nijjar had talked about an unofficial Khalistan referendum vote seeking a separate Sikh state. India had offered a reward for information leading to Nijjar’s arrest or apprehension last year. The reward of 1 million was offered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The World Sikh Organisation of Canada called Nijjar an outspoken supporter of Khalistan who “often led peaceful protests against the violation of human rights actively taking place in India and in support of Khalistan.”