Sikh exile’s slay mars Canada-India ties
Ottawa expels an Indian diplomat and New Delhi responded in the same way
Canada and India expelled each other’s diplomat Tuesday after Ottawa linked a Sikh exile’s killing near Vancouver in June to Indian spies.
“Today we have expelled a senior Indian diplomat from Canada,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in Ottawa.
The diplomat was only identified as the head of the Research and Analysis Wing of India’s foreign intelligence agency in Canada.
Before Joly’s announcement of the expulsion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an emergency parliamentary session, “The involvement of any foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
Trudeau, who was referring to Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, demanded that India cooperate in clearing the matter.
New Delhi rejected the claims and said it ordered an unnamed senior Canadian diplomat to leave the country within five days.
“Allegations of Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd,” the ministry said in a statement, adding: “We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law.”
Nijjar, whom India had declared a wanted terrorist, was gunned down on June 18 in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver that is home to a large Sikh community.
Canada has the largest population of Sikhs globally outside of India.
Nijjar advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state to be carved out of parts of northern India and perhaps part of Pakistan.
New Delhi had 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.
India will join “the group of nations that assassinate political opponents” abroad, much as Saudi Arabia orchestrated the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018, former Trudeau adviser Jocelyn Coulon, said.
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