Canada on Monday said it had expelled an Indian diplomat believed to have a credible link to the murder of a Sikh leader in western Canada last June.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an emergency session of the parliamentary opposition that his government is “actively pursuing” evidence of a link between India and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen.
“The involvement of any foreign government in the murder 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 up the matter.
Shortly after, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Canada had expelled India’s head of intelligence in the country as it investigates the matter.
“Allegations that a representative of a foreign government may have been involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen here in Canada, on Canadian soil… are totally unacceptable,” Joly said.
“Therefore, today we have expelled a senior Indian diplomat from Canada,” she added, without naming the diplomat.
Nijjar, whom India had declared a wanted terrorist, was gunned down on June 18 in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver that is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in Canada.
Nijjar advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state to be carved out of parts of northern India and perhaps part of Pakistan. India accused Nijjar of carrying out terrorist attacks in India, a charge he denied.
Tensions between India and Canada have been simmering over the unsolved slaying, and Indian unhappiness over how Ottawa has handled right-wing Sikh separatists.
New Delhi accuses Ottawa of turning a blind eye to the activities of radical Sikh nationalists who seek a separate Sikh homeland in northern India.
The tensions flared further during the G20 summit in New Delhi, which Trudeau attended.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada” during 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 media that Canada would always defend “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of peaceful protest” while acting against hatred.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)