The diplomatic row between New Delhi and Ottawa worsened further on Tuesday over a Sikh leader’s assassination as India — in a tit-for-tat move — expelled a Canadian diplomat, triggering an international response on the matter. The ties between the two nations fell to a new low after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Narendra Modi government of a role in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder in British Columbia in June. Nijjar, who was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in June, had been designated a "terrorist" by India in July 2020, following his support for a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent state of Khalistan.
The diplomatic tension between New Delhi and Ottawa has escalated further following the assassination of a Sikh leader. In response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's accusations of the Indian government's involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia, India has expelled a Canadian diplomat, triggering an international response.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in June. India had designated him a "terrorist" in July 2020 due to his support for an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan.
The Canadian high commissioner (ambassador) in New Delhi was summoned and informed of the expulsion decision by India's foreign ministry. The ministry stated that this decision reflects India's growing concern about Canadian diplomats interfering in its internal matters and engaging in anti-India activities. The expelled diplomat has been given five days to leave India.
Prime Minister Trudeau briefed several world leaders, including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, and US President Joe Biden, about the progress in the investigation into Hardeep Singh Nijjar's killing. Canada also expelled India's top intelligence agent in the country, Pavan Kumar Rai, head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Canada, operating from the Indian High Commission.
Trudeau's allegations of Indian government involvement in the assassination were disclosed during an emergency assembly session. He had urged India to cooperate with Canada in resolving the issue, and Modi expressed concerns about recent demonstrations in Canada by Sikhs advocating for an independent state.
Canada has the largest Sikh population outside the Indian state of Punjab, with approximately 770,000 people reporting Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.
In response to these allegations, the Indian foreign ministry rejected any involvement in violence, labeling the accusations as absurd and motivated. They had previously rejected similar allegations made by Trudeau to Prime Minister Modi. India urged Canada to take legal action against anti-India elements operating from its soil.
The US, UK, and Australia have expressed concerns about the allegations and are closely monitoring developments. The White House National Security Council spokesperson emphasized the need for Canada's investigation to proceed, while the UK government stated they are in close touch with Canadian authorities during the ongoing investigation. Australia expressed deep concern and noted that it had conveyed its concerns to India at senior levels.
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