Canada Probes India’s Alleged Involvement in Sikh Leader’s Assassination

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada recently announced that national security agencies are investigating credible allegations indicating possible involvement by Indian government agents in the assassination of eminent Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, back in June.

Over several weeks, Canadian security agencies have been diligently probing allegations suggesting a potential connection between Indian government agents and the assassination of Nijjar. The Prime Minister referred to these allegations as profoundly serious when addressing the House of Commons and informing opposition party leaders.

In his address, Trudeau called upon the Indian government to facilitate the ongoing investigations into Nijjar’s death and expressed hopes that India would affirm its stance against perpetrating extrajudicial operations in a foreign nation in alignment with international law.

In a noteworthy development, Melanie Joly, the Foreign Affairs Minister, informed that Canada expelled a key Indian diplomat suspected to be the orchestration of Canadian operations for the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s foreign intelligence agency. The expelled diplomat is identified as Pavan Kumar Rai, ostensibly designated as a minister for economic, coordination and community affairs according to the Indian High Commission’s website.

Joly further highlighted Canada’s expectation for India’s full cooperation to ensure the truth behind this incident comes to surface. The Sikh community in Canada responded to Nijjar’s murder with significant unrest, with several instances of holding Indian diplomats accountable via protest placards.

The assassination of Nijjar, the then president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and a staunch advocate for an indigenous homeland for Sikhs in the Indian Punjab region, took place in Surrey, B.C., in June. His death sparked widespread protests across the Canadian Sikh community, with many alleging that the murder was a scheme architected by the Indian government.

Previous diplomatic tensions between India and Canada were evident during Trudeau’s recent visit to the G20 summit in India. Trudeau confirmed that the allegations were brought to the attention of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally and directly, whereas Modi’s office expressed deep concerns regarding ongoing anti-India activities by extremist elements in Canada.

Federal emphasis on the unacceptable violation of their sovereignty by a foreign government was reiterated by Trudeau, reflecting the strained relations between Canada and India. The postponement of a trade mission to India by Trade Minister Mary Ng, in the absence of a substantial explanation, further highlighted the ongoing diplomatic tensions.

Reaction from Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre was intense, emphasizing the need for Indian government cooperation with Canadian investigators and expressing condolences to Nijjar’s family. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh pointed to the devastating impacts the incident would have on Canadians, having himself been denied an Indian visa in 2013 due to his Sikh advocacy and criticism of India’s human rights record.

Despite existing foreign interference allegations, particularly from China, and the launch of a public inquiry into same, Singh called for inclusion of this case into the probe, reaffirming the need for truth, justice, and democratic action.

Canada houses the largest Sikh community outside of India and the Sikh leaders are calling for firm action against India and the termination of intelligence sharing agreements. Meanwhile, community leaders are also planning a series of protests outside the Indian High Commission and consulates across Canada.

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