Canada-India Spar Over Inquiry into Activist’s Murder Intensifies Tensions


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has appealed to India, seeking their cooperation in the investigation of a Sikh independence activist’s murder on Canadian soil. However, New Delhi responded, stating Canada has failed to provide any substantial information regarding the case.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the murdered activist, had been on India’s wanted list for years. He was fatally shot in June outside the B.C. temple which he directed. Trudeau presented his case before the Parliament on Monday, citing ‘credible allegations’ implicating India in Nijjar’s untimely demise.

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The escalating tension between the two nations resulted in the expulsion of an Indian diplomat from Canada, promptly followed by India ejecting a Canadian representative the next day.

Addressing the United Nations on Thursday, Prime Minister Trudeau mentioned that resolving to speak before the Commons wasn’t done haphazardly. He further expressed Canada’s insistence that India treat this matter with the gravity it commands, joining forces with Canada in their pursuit of justice and accountability.

Emphasizing Canada’s unwavering commitment to legal protocols in protecting its citizens, and upholding the nation’s core values, Trudeau underscored their robust and independent judiciary. He exhorted the Indian government to actively participate in uncovering the truth.

New Delhi, on the other hand, deems the allegations under investigation in Canada as ludicrous, accusing it of trying to draw attention away from Nijjar and other wanted fugitives sheltered within Canada.

Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for the Indian External Affairs Ministry, accused Canada of politicizing the issue during a Thursday briefing. He claimed that Canada had provided no detailed information about the case, though India was open to any substantial information shared. Bagchi also portrayed Canada as a safe haven for extremists, with specific proof of criminal activities undertaken by individuals based in Canada, regularly shared but not acted upon by Canadian authorities.

Nijjar, at the time of his assassination, was planning an independent referendum among the Sikh diaspora on seceding from India. He had consistently refuted India’s allegations of his terrorist involvement. A second round of B.C voting has been scheduled for October 29 regarding the possible establishment of a Sikh homeland in India’s Punjab province.

The Vancouver Police Department increased security around the Indian consulate following Trudeau’s Monday announcement.

Amid escalating tensions, India has temporarily suspended all visa services for Canadian citizens due to perceived ‘security threats.’ New Delhi’s suggestion to reduce the number of diplomats in India, arguing a disproportion between Canadian and Indian staff, stirred the controversy further.

Yet, Global Affairs Canada reassured that its high commission and all its consulates in India would continue their regular services. The department affirmed that a threat assessment was underway following threats received by some of its diplomats on social media and expected India to provide security for its diplomats and consular officers stationed there.