Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has underlined his country’s commitment to not provoke or escalate tensions with India. Instead, he urged the Indian government to treat the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar with the utmost seriousness.
Trudeau’s comments came in the wake of a diplomatic dispute between Canada and India, resulting in the expulsion of a senior diplomat from each nation. The controversy erupted following allegations made by Trudeau regarding the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in Nijjar’s assassination in June.
“We are doing that. We are not looking to provoke or escalate,” Trudeau assured reporters. “We want to work with the government of India to lay everything clear and to ensure there are proper processes.”
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, headed the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and was considered one of India’s most-wanted terrorists. He had a substantial cash reward on his head and was fatally shot by unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia.
In a speech to the House of Commons, Trudeau revealed that Canadian security agencies had been actively investigating allegations of a possible link between Indian government agents and Nijjar’s killing. In response, Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly ordered the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat.
India swiftly refuted the allegations and condemned Trudeau’s claims as “absurd and motivated.” The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) rejected the accusations and recalled a Canadian diplomat from India.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar had been designated a ‘terrorist’ by India in 2020, with his property in India being attached by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). A Interpol Red Corner Notice was also issued against him in 2016.
The strained relations between India and Canada have been evident in recent months, with trade talks stalling and Canada canceling trade negotiations. The diplomatic row over Nijjar’s killing further complicates the relationship between the two countries.