Canada has expelled a senior Indian diplomat over allegations that India’s intelligence agency was involved in the killing of a Sikh leader who advocated for an independent Sikh state. Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen wanted by India was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced the expulsion of the head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in Canada on Monday, saying that the allegations were “totally unacceptable” and “a great violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Canada’s security agencies were investigating “credible allegations” of a potential link between agents of the Indian government and Nijjar’s murder. He said he had raised the issue with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the G20 summit last week and urged him to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of the matter.
Nijjar was accused by India of being a member of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), a banned group that seeks to create a separate Sikh homeland. India had declared him a wanted terrorist and offered a reward of Rs 10 lakh for his arrest.
The killing of Nijjar has sparked tensions between Canada and India, which have been strained over the issue of Sikh separatism.
Canada has also suspended negotiations for a free-trade agreement with India over human rights concerns. Trudeau said that Canada would always stand up for “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of peaceful protest” while condemning hatred and violence.