India expels Canadian diplomat after Trudeau accuses India of involvement in Sikh’s killing

NEW DELHI (AP) — India expelled a senior Canadian diplomat on Tuesday and accused Canada of interfering in its inside affairs, ramping up a confrontation between the 2 international locations over accusations that the Indian authorities might have been concerned within the killing of a Sikh activist.

READ MORE: The Sikh independence motion on the coronary heart of India-Canada tensions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated Canada wasn’t trying to escalate tensions, however requested India to take the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar significantly after India referred to as accusations that the Indian authorities might have been concerned “absurd.”

“India and the federal government of India must take this matter with the utmost seriousness,” Trudeau informed journalists outdoors Parliament Tuesday.

“We’re doing that. We aren’t trying to provoke or escalate. We’re merely laying out the information as we perceive them and we need to work with the federal government of India to put every little thing clear and to make sure there are correct processes.”

Trudeau stated Monday that his authorities was investigating allegations that India was linked to the assassination of Niijar, 45, who was gunned down in June in British Columbia. Later Monday, Canada expelled an Indian diplomat.

The dueling expulsions escalate tensions between Canada and India. Trudeau had frosty encounters with Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the Group of 20 assembly in New Delhi, and some days later Canada canceled a commerce mission to India that was deliberate for the autumn.

The motion to determine an impartial Sikh homeland, referred to as Khalistan, has been a goal of the Indian authorities because the Eighties, when a Sikh insurgency emerged that lasted greater than a decade. It was suppressed by a crackdown during which hundreds of individuals have been killed, together with outstanding Sikh leaders.

Nijjar was wished by Indian authorities, who had accused him of ties to terrorism for years and supplied a money reward for info resulting in his arrest. Nijjar denied the allegations and was working with a company referred to as Sikhs For Justice to prepare an unofficial Sikh diaspora referendum on independence from India on the time of his killing.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer and spokesperson for Sikhs For Justice, has stated Nijjar was warned by Canadian intelligence officers about being focused for assassination by “mercenaries” earlier than he was gunned down.

Niijar’s son, Baraj Singh Nijjar, stated Tuesday that his household and the Sikh neighborhood have been relieved by the Canadian actions.

“From day one we type of had this concept and data that if something would occur to him, the Indian authorities can be concerned,” he stated. “It was only a matter of time for when the reality would come out. It’s lastly coming to the general public eyes that the Indian authorities is concerned on this. It’s a extremely severe international interference case.”

READ MORE: Canada expels Indian diplomat because it investigates authorities’s attainable hyperlink to Sikh activist’s killing

On Monday, Trudeau informed Parliament that Canadian safety businesses have been investigating “credible allegations of a possible hyperlink between brokers of the federal government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen.”

“Any involvement of a international authorities within the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he stated.

India’s international ministry dismissed the allegation as “absurd and motivated,” and accused Canada of harboring “terrorists and extremists.”

“Such unsubstantiated allegations search to shift the main target from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who’ve been offered shelter in Canada and proceed to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it wrote in a press release issued earlier Tuesday.

India has lengthy demanded that Canada take motion towards the Sikh independence motion, which is banned in India however has assist in international locations like Canada and the U.Okay. which have sizable Sikh diaspora populations. Canada has a Sikh inhabitants of greater than 770,000, about 2% of its complete inhabitants.

In March, Modi’s authorities summoned the Canadian excessive commissioner in New Delhi, the highest diplomat within the nation, to complain about Sikh independence protests in Canada. In 2020, India’s international ministry additionally summoned the highest diplomat over feedback made by Trudeau about an agricultural protest motion related to the state of Punjab, the place many Sikhs stay.

Critics accuse Modi’s Hindu nationalist authorities of searching for to suppress dissent utilizing sedition legal guidelines and different authorized weapons. Some critics of his administration, together with intellectuals, activists, filmmakers, college students and journalists have been arrested, creating what Modi’s opponents say is a tradition of intimidation.

Below Modi’s rule, spiritual minorities, notably Muslims, have confronted growing assaults by Hindu nationalists, and assaults on the press and free speech have grown, along with his administration utilizing web shutdowns to quell protests.

Trudeau informed Parliament that he introduced up Nijjar’s slaying with Modi on the G20 assembly in New Delhi final week. He stated he informed Modi that any Indian authorities involvement can be unacceptable and that he requested for cooperation within the investigation.

On the G20 assembly, Modi expressed “sturdy considerations” over Canada’s dealing with of the Sikh independence motion throughout a gathering with Trudeau, India’s assertion stated.

The assertion referred to as on Canada to work with India on what New Delhi stated is a menace to the Canadian Indian diaspora, and accused the Sikh motion of “selling secessionism and inciting violence” towards Indian diplomats.

Earlier this yr, Sikh protesters pulled down the Indian flag on the nation’s excessive fee in London and smashed the constructing’s window after India arrested a well-liked Sikh preacher. Protesters additionally smashed home windows on the Indian Consulate In San Francisco and skirmished with embassy staff.

Whereas in New Delhi for the G20, Trudeau skipped a dinner hosted by the Indian president, and native media stories stated he was snubbed by Modi when he received a fast “pull apart” assembly as a substitute of a bilateral assembly.

To make issues worse, Trudeau was caught in India for 36 hours after the summit ended as a result of his flight was grounded by a mechanical difficulty.

“Trudeau’s turbulent India journey refuses to finish,” learn the headline on the India Right now web site final week.

Some analysts in India questioned whether or not Canada had proof of Indian hyperlinks to the killing, and whether or not Trudeau was attempting to drum up assist among the many Sikh diaspora.

“Such a cost towards India by a G7 nation is unprecedented. The Canadian authorities has intentionally made a spectacle of it to please its home constituency amongst the Sikh diaspora,” stated Okay.C. Singh, a former diplomat and strategic affairs skilled.

“Trudeau wanted to be engaged, not snubbed throughout his India go to. Now it has reached some extent of adverse return,” Singh, the previous diplomat, additionally remarked on X, previously referred to as Twitter.

The British authorities stated Tuesday that there aren’t any plans to reinvestigate the loss of life of a U.Okay-based Sikh activist within the wake of Canada’s declare India may need been behind the slaying of Nijjer.

READ MORE: Sikh People push for better visibility, consciousness towards years of hate crimes, misunderstanding

Avtar Singh Khanda, who had performed a outstanding function in protests for an impartial Sikh homeland, died in June within the central England metropolis of Birmingham after falling in poor health. Supporters alleged be may need been poisoned, however Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman, Max Blain, stated that police discovered no suspicious circumstances.

The Trudeau authorities’s allegations are awkward for the U.Okay., which is an in depth ally of Canada within the “5 Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance, however can also be searching for a free commerce cope with India.

“These are severe allegations. It’s proper that the Canadian authorities needs to be trying into them,” Blain stated, including that it might be inappropriate to remark additional whereas the investigation is underway.

In 1984, Indian forces stormed the Golden Temple within the state’s Amritsar metropolis to flush out Sikh separatists, who had taken refuge there. The controversial operation killed round 400, in line with official figures, though Sikh teams estimate the toll to be larger.

The prime minister who ordered the raid, Indira Gandhi, was killed afterwards by two of her bodyguards, who have been Sikh. Her loss of life triggered a collection of anti-Sikh riots, during which Hindu mobs went from home to accommodate throughout northern India, pulling Sikhs from their properties, hacking many to loss of life and burning others alive.

Gillies reported from Toronto. Aamer Madhani in New York, Sheikh Saaliq in New Delhi, and Jill Lawless in London, contributed to this report.

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