India -Canada spat over killing of a pro-Khalistani leader in June, Canada expels Indian Diplomat

The assassination of a Pro-Khalistani Sikh in British Columbia, the western most province of Canada, in June has now triggered a fierce diplomatic row with Canada alleging India’s involvement in the incident and India rejecting it outright.

Canada has expelled an Indian Diplomat based in Canada and sought India’s full collaboration in the investigation it wants to launch, whereas India has asked Canada not to shelter or sympathise with ‘terrorists’.  The Toronto Star has identified the expelled diplomat as Pavan Kumar Rai of India’s external intelligence Agency Research and Analysis wing.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Canadian Parliament (Commons) on Monday that his country’s security agencies had ‘credible intelligence’ that  the Indian government was behind the June 2023 murder of a pro-Khalistan leader in British Columbia, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

In a follow up statement, foreign minister Melanie Joly said that Canada will seek the full truth over the incident and asserted that it will protect each and every Canadian in its soil, and not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty. She further announced that a senior India diplomat had been expelled over the incident and that she has spoken to her Indian counterpart seeking their full collaboration in the investigation.

The Wire, in its main news, called Trudeau’s statement an explosive one ‘that is sure to send Ottawa’s relations with Delhi nosediving’ and also hurt India’s international standing.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in its complete rejection of the allegations made by Prime Minister Trudeau and foreign Minister Joly, said they ‘were absurd and motivated.’ ‘We reject any attempts to connect the government of India to such developments,’ adding ‘we  urge the government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action  against all anti-India activities operating from their soli.’

The statement also confirmed Trudeau’s claim that he had brought up this allegation with Modi. “Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected,” MEA’s statement said.

PM Trudeau also confirmed in the House that he had taken up the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the recent G-20
Meeting, and apparently India ‘s response was the same as MEA stated yesterday.

MEA further alleged that Canada had sympathised with Khalistani terrorists and was trying to deflect from the real issue with these allegations. ‘Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistan terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.’

“The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” the statement reads. “That Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a matter of deep concern.”