Indian government officials may be behind the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh leader from British Columbia, the Canadian government announced Monday. An Indian intelligence official has been expelled from the country.
“As a result, we expelled a top-level Indian diplomat from Canada,” Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly told the media.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had just announced in the House of Commons that intelligence services are investigating “credible” allegations of “a possible link” between the Indian government and the murder of Mr. Nijjar, a Canadian citizen.
The latter was shot dead in front of his gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18. He was alone in his van when he was attacked as he left the parking lot of the place of worship.
Members of Canada’s Sikh community had accused the Indian government of being behind the killing and of trying to silence voices calling for part of the state of Punjab to become an independent Sikh nation, but the police denied having any evidence of this.
The Indian government confronted
“I continue to urge and with the utmost firmness the Government of India to cooperate with Canada to clarify this matter,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared in front of all federal elected officials.
“I also expect the Government of India to reaffirm that its position on extrajudicial operations in another country is clearly and unequivocally consistent with international law. »
Mr. Trudeau says he also raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi earlier this month. Senior Canadian intelligence officials have also traveled to India on several occasions to confront their counterparts in that country, said the new Minister of Public Security, Dominic LeBlanc.
“This is an active homicide investigation by the British Columbia RCMP. […] We will do everything to find those responsible,” he said.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar had received death threats because of his support for an independent Sikh state in Khalistan, India.
In India, Mr. Nijjar has been charged with terrorism-related offenses and insurrection. India’s National Investigation Agency had issued a charge sheet last year accusing Mr. Nijjar of conspiring to murder Hindu priest Kamaldeep Sharma, who the agency said was killed by a “terrorist gang » in a village in Jalandhar, Punjab.
The day after Mr. Nijjar’s murder, the World Sikh Organization of Canada, a non-profit organization which claims to defend the interests of Canadian Sikhs, issued a press release calling the murder an “assassination”.
The organization had argued that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the police “were aware of the threat to Mr. Nijjar as well as other Sikh activists in Canada.”
Relations between Canada and India have been tense for months. In recent weeks, Canada has suspended trade negotiations with India and canceled a trade mission to the country planned for this fall.
With The Canadian Press