In a riveting disclosure, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that national security agencies are hard at work investigating serious allegations implicating the Indian government in the assassination of esteemed Canadian Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, in British Columbia.
Trudeau emphasized that the probe’s initial focus involved determining the credibility of claims that link the Indian government’s agents directly with Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder. The Prime Minister himself labeled this an ‘extreme grave matter,’ and vowed to pursue it with diligence, for which he has sought all political parties’ backing.
Trudeau has exhorted the Indian government to join forces with the Canadian authorities in this investigation, expressing hopes that India’s clear and consistent legal stance against extrajudicial operations in other countries would encourage their cooperation.
Echoing the Prime Minister’s sentiments, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly also confirmed Canada’s decision to expel a leading Indian diplomat assigned to Canada’s branch of the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s foreign intelligence agency.
The diplomat, identified as Pavan Kumar Rai, was denounced for his alleged role in Canadian operations. Joly further revealed her intent to bring up this issue for discussions at an imminent evening meeting with the members of G7 foreign ministers in New York.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who presided over the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, was known for his advocacy of Khalistan, a separate homeland for Sikhs in the Punjab region of India. His assassination outside the temple in Surrey, B.C., stirred a wave of protests amongst the Canadian Sikh community who lashed out at the Indian government with accusations attributing the murder to them.
During the G20 summit in India last week, interactions between Trudeau and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi were sprinkled with diplomatic tensions. Trudeau affirmed that he had broached the topic of these allegations with Prime Minister Modi personally.
The Indian government’s official stance voiced strong concerns about extreme anti-India factions in Canada persisting in harmful activities. Trudeau, however, stressed that foreign government involvement in a Canadian citizen’s murder on Canadian soil is a grave infringement of the country’s sovereignty.
Tensions between the two nations had previously led to the postponement of a fall trade mission to India orchestrated by Federal Trade Minister Mary Ng.
In the face of these alarming allegations, National Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh expressed his anticipation of the far-reaching implications they were likely to have on Canadians. He also conveyed sympathies to Nijjar’s grieving family during his emotionally charged address to the House.
Pleading for the truth to be acknowledged, Singh narrowed down on the Indian Government’s attempts to silence their critics, declaring despite this, justice and truth would not be silenced.
As part of a broader international campaign against foreign interference, a public inquiry has been launched in Canada, primarily pinpointing allegations of Chinese meddling in Canadian democracy. Trudeau’s national security advisor, Jody Thomas warned that India was among the top foreign interference sources in Canada. The newly appointed commissioner of this inquiry, Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Marie-Josée Hogue, has been tasked with examining this current issue as well.
Canadian Sikh community leaders expressed mixed feelings about the developments while adding the push for a public inquiry into foreign interference and severing intelligence sharing relationships between India and Canada.
Outside Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, Moninder Singh, B.C. Gurdwaras Council spokesperson said the community is looking forward to seeing justice served. Concurrently, a series of protests outside Indian High Commission and consulates across Canada are being planned by community leaders in response to this incident.