OTTAWA/NEW DELHI – Diplomatic relations between Canada and India have taken a sharp turn for the worse as tensions rise over allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the involvement of "agents of the Indian government" in the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The situation has prompted swift and decisive actions from both nations, leaving the international community closely watching the developments.
The controversy began when Prime Minister Trudeau initially alleged Indian government involvement in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent figure in the banned Khalistan Tiger Force, who was gunned down by unidentified assailants outside a gurdwara in Surrey, Canada, on June 18. These allegations raised eyebrows internationally, with the United States expressing "deep concern" about the accusations.
"We are not looking to provoke or escalate," Prime Minister Trudeau stated in a press conference today. "We want to work with the government of India to lay everything clear and to ensure there are proper processes."
In a speech to the House of Commons on Monday, Trudeau disclosed that Canadian security agencies were actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between Indian government agents and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, further intensifying the diplomatic dispute.
India promptly rejected Trudeau's claims, dismissing them as "absurd and motivated" in a statement issued by the foreign ministry. "Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister and were completely rejected," the statement emphasized.
The situation took a dramatic turn over the last two days, with both Canada and India expelling a senior diplomat from each other's embassies. The unnamed Canadian diplomat was asked to leave India within five days, deepening the rift.
This escalation comes shortly after the issue was discussed between Prime Minister Trudeau and his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in India. During the meeting, the Indian foreign ministry conveyed concerns about extremist elements in Canada allegedly "promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, threatening the Indian community and their places of worship."
Prime Minister Trudeau, however, reiterated Canada's commitment to "defending freedom of expression, conscience, and peaceful protest." He added that while Canada supports these principles, it will not tolerate violence or hatred.
Canada has long been a hub for expatriate Sikhs, and tensions over Sikh separatism have strained bilateral ties, even derailing trade talks between the two nations.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, aged 45, was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and was among India's most-wanted terrorists. His assassination has heightened international scrutiny and added fuel to the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Canada and India.