Trudeau Seeks India’s Cooperation in Probing Sikh Activist’s Death

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There is a rising call from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for assistance from India in investigating the death of a Sikh independence activist on Canadian soil, an event that has ignited concern and tension between the two nations. An objection raised by New Delhi insists that Canada has so far failed to provide any substantiating information regarding the case.

Addressing Parliament on Monday, Trudeau brought to light “credible allegations” suggesting Indian involvement in the gruesome gunning-down of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The victim, a prominent figure wanted by Indian authorities, met his end outside a B.C. temple that he led, in June. Responding to this event, Canada expelled an Indian diplomat, a move reciprocated by India with the dismissal of a Canadian representative on the following Tuesday.

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In a serious tone during a news conference at the United Nations on Thursday, Trudeau pointed out that the decision to proceed with addressing the Commons “was not taken lightly.” The prime minister expressed that he seeks a serious commitment from India in collaboratively working with Canada for the sake of justice and accountability.

The Canadian leader vowed not to falter on the significance of rule of law, the protection of Canadian citizens, and preserving the values that define the nation. Trudeau’s faith in Canada’s justice system was made evident, and he called for the Indian government to engage with Canada “to move forward on getting to the truth of this matter.”

However, the allegations being investigated in Canada have been dismissed by India, who referred to them as absurd and an effort to divert attention from the presence of Nijjar and other wanted individuals in Canada. Arindam Bagchi, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, in a Thursday briefing, claimed that Canada’s allegations seemed to be politically driven.

Bagchi accused Canada of providing safe asylum to extremists, pointing to the lack of action by Canadian authorities on specific criminal activity evidence regularly shared by Indian officials. The spokesperson also shed light on Canada’s lack of correspondence on this specific case.

Nijjar, known for his efforts to organize an unofficial referendum among the Sikh diaspora on independence from India, was involved in a heated controversy at the time of his death. Nijjar had firmly rejected India’s claims of him being a terrorist.

The news escalates security measures around India’s consulate in Vancouver, following Trudeau’s announcement. Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, called for patience while investigators do their work, affirming that facts will certainly emerge.

However, this situation poses a question to the ongoing trade talks between the two nations. While Trade Minister Mary Ng didn’t provide a clear connection between the allegations and Canada’s cancellation of a planned trade mission to India, she expressed her desire not to detract from the ongoing police investigation.

In the middle of this controversy, India implemented a temporary hold on all visa services to Canadian citizens, citing “security threats” faced by their high commission and consulates. Strained relations between the nations only intensified as Canada anticipated India to ensure the safety of its diplomats and consular officers stationed in India. In the meantime, the doors of the Canadian high commission and all its consulates in India remain open and operational, ready to serve their clients.