NEW DELHI — India expelled a senior Canadian diplomat on Tuesday and accused Canada of interfering in its inside affairs, ramping up a confrontation between the 2 nations over accusations that the Indian authorities might have been concerned within the killing of a Sikh activist.
It got here a day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated his authorities was investigating allegations that India was linked to the assassination of Sikh independence advocate Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
“It’s a sigh of reduction for the household and the Sikh neighborhood right here as a result of from day one we form of had this concept and data that if something would occur to him the Indian authorities could be concerned,” stated Baraj Singh Nijjar, the son of Nijjar.
“It was only a matter of time for when the reality would come out. It’s lastly coming to the general public eyes that the Indian authorities is concerned on this. It’s a very critical overseas interference case.”
Niijar was gunned down in British Columbia in June, and Canada expelled a prime Indian diplomat. India rejected the allegations as “absurd.”
The dueling expulsions escalate tensions between Canada and India. Trudeau had frosty encounters with Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the Group of 20 assembly in New Delhi, and some days later Canada canceled a commerce mission to India that was deliberate for the autumn.
The motion to ascertain an unbiased Sikh homeland, referred to as Khalistan, has been a goal of the Indian authorities for the reason that Eighties, when a Sikh insurgency emerged that lasted greater than a decade. It was suppressed by a crackdown wherein hundreds of individuals have been killed, together with outstanding Sikh leaders.
Nijjar was wished by Indian authorities, who had accused him of ties to terrorism for years and supplied a money reward for data resulting in his arrest. Nijjar denied any ties to terrorism, and was working with a corporation referred to as Sikhs For Justice to prepare an unofficial Sikh diaspora referendum on independence from India on the time of this dying.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer and spokesperson for Sikhs For Justice, has stated Nijjar had been warned by Canadian intelligence officers about being focused for assassination by “mercenaries” earlier than he was gunned down.
Trudeau informed Parliament on Monday that Canadian safety businesses have been investigating “credible allegations of a possible hyperlink between brokers of the federal government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen.”
“Any involvement of a overseas authorities within the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he stated.
India’s overseas ministry dismissed the allegation as “absurd and motivated,” and accused Canada of harboring “terrorists and extremists.”
“Such unsubstantiated allegations search to shift the main focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who’ve been supplied shelter in Canada and proceed to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it wrote in an announcement issued earlier Tuesday.
India has lengthy demanded that Canada take motion in opposition to the Sikh independence motion, which is banned in India however has assist in nations like Canada and the U.Ok. with sizable Sikh diaspora populations. Canada has a Sikh inhabitants of greater than 770,000, about 2% of its whole inhabitants.
In March, Modi’s authorities summoned the Canadian excessive commissioner in New Delhi, the highest diplomat within the nation, to complain about Sikh independence protests in Canada. In 2020, India’s overseas ministry additionally summoned the highest diplomat over feedback made by Trudeau about an agricultural protest motion related to the state of Punjab, the place many Sikhs dwell.
Critics accuse Modi’s Hindu nationalist authorities of looking for to suppress dissenters and activists utilizing sedition legal guidelines and different authorized weapons. Some critics of his administration, together with intellectuals, activists, filmmakers, college students and journalists have been arrested, creating what Modi’s opponents say is a tradition of intimidation.
Trudeau informed Parliament that he introduced up Nijjar’s slaying with Modi on the G20 assembly in New Delhi final week. He stated he informed Modi that any Indian authorities involvement could be unacceptable and that he requested for cooperation within the investigation.
On the G20 assembly, Modi expressed “sturdy considerations” over Canada’s dealing with of the Sikh independence motion throughout a gathering with Trudeau on the G20, India’s assertion stated.
The assertion referred to as on Canada to work with India on what New Delhi stated is a risk to the Canadian Indian diaspora, and described the Sikh motion as “selling secessionism and inciting violence” in opposition to Indian diplomats.
Earlier this 12 months, Sikh protesters pulled down the Indian flag on the nation’s excessive fee in London and smashed the constructing’s window after India arrested a well-liked Sikh preacher. Protesters additionally smashed home windows on the Indian Consulate In San Francisco and skirmished with embassy staff.
Whereas in New Delhi for the G20, Trudeau skipped a dinner hosted by the Indian president, and native media studies stated that he was snubbed by Modi when he acquired a fast “pull apart” assembly as a substitute of a bilateral assembly.
To make issues worse, Trudeau was caught in India for 36 hours after the summit ended as a result of his flight was grounded due to a mechanical snag.
“Trudeau’s turbulent India journey refuses to finish,” learn the headline on the India At present web site final week.
It’s unclear when precisely Trudeau introduced up Nijjar’s case with Modi through the G20.
Some analysts in India questioned whether or not Canada had proof of Indian hyperlinks to the killing, and whether or not Trudeau was attempting to drum up assist among the many Sikh diaspora.
“Such a cost in opposition to India by a G7 nation is unprecedented. The Canadian authorities has intentionally made a spectacle of it to please its home constituency amongst the Sikh diaspora,” stated Ok.C. Singh, a former diplomat and strategic affairs professional. He added that Canada didn’t current exhausting proof and that Trudeau’s assertion “unnecessarily upped the ante.”
“India ought to’ve seen it coming. Trudeau wanted to be engaged, not snubbed throughout his India go to. Now it has reached a degree of inauspicious return,” Singh, the previous diplomat, additionally remarked on X, previously referred to as Twitter.
The British authorities stated Tuesday that there aren’t any plans to reinvestigate the dying of a U.Ok-based Sikh activist within the wake of Canada’s declare India might need been behind the slaying of Nijjer.
Avtar Singh Khanda, who had performed a outstanding position in protests for an unbiased Sikh homeland, died in June within the central England metropolis of Birmingham after falling sick. Supporters alleged be might need been poisoned, however Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman, Max Blain, stated that police discovered no suspicious circumstances.
The Trudeau authorities’s allegations are awkward for the U.Ok., which is a detailed ally of Canada within the “5 Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance, however can be looking for a free commerce cope with India.
“These are critical allegations. It’s proper that the Canadian authorities needs to be trying into them,” Blain stated, including that it will be inappropriate to remark additional whereas the investigation is underway.
In 1984, Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple within the state’s Amritsar metropolis to flush out Sikh separatists, who had taken refuge there. The controversial operation killed round 400, in response to official figures, though Sikh teams estimate the toll to be larger.
The prime minister who ordered the raid, Indira Gandhi, was killed afterwards by two of her bodyguards, who have been Sikh. Her dying triggered a collection of anti-Sikh riots, wherein Hindu mobs went from home to deal with throughout northern India, pulling Sikhs from their houses, hacking many to dying and burning others alive.
Rob Gillies reported from Toronto. Aamer Madhani in New York, Sheikh Saaliq in New Delhi, and Jill Lawless in London, contributed to this report.