Canada on Monday said it had expelled an Indian diplomat believed to have credible links to the killing of a Sikh leader in western Canada in June.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an emergency session of the opposition parliament that his government is “actively pursuing” evidence of a link between India and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a citizen of Canada.
“The complicity of any foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau said.
He called “in the strongest possible terms” on the Indian government to cooperate in clearing the matter.
Shortly after, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Canada had expelled India’s intelligence chief from the country while it investigated the matter.
“Allegations that a representative of a foreign government could be involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen here in Canada, on Canadian soil … is absolutely unacceptable,” Joly said.
“So, today we have expelled a senior Indian diplomat from Canada,” he added, without naming the diplomat.
Nijjar, who India has declared a wanted terrorist, was gunned down on June 18 in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver that is home to one of Canada’s largest Sikh populations.
Nijjar advocated the creation of an independent Sikh state carved out of parts of northern India and perhaps part of Pakistan. India has accused Nijjar of carrying out terrorist attacks in India, a charge he denies.
Tensions between India and Canada have been running high over the unsolved killings, and India’s dismay at how Ottawa has handled right-wing Sikh separatists.
New Delhi has accused Ottawa of turning a blind eye to the activities of radical Sikh nationalists seeking a separate Sikh homeland in northern India.
Tensions further escalated during the G20 summit in New Delhi, which Trudeau attended.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed “strong concerns about the continuation of anti-India activities by extremist elements in Canada” in a meeting with Trudeau, according to an Indian government statement.
Canada also recently suspended negotiations for a free trade agreement with India.
Trudeau later told the media that Canada will always protect “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of peaceful protest” while taking action against hate.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)