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Canada suspects India behind pro-Khalistani chief’s homicide

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau accused the Indian authorities of being concerned within the homicide of a pro-Khalistan Sikh chief on Monday, sparking a row between the 2 nations.

What are the allegations

Trudeau, whereas chatting with the Home of Commons on Monday, claimed that Canadian safety companies have been making an attempt to hyperlink “brokers of the federal government of India” to the June homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh neighborhood chief designated as a “Khalistani terrorist” by India, within the Surrey suburb of Vancouver.

If substantiated proof have been to return ahead and implicate Indian authorities officers within the killing of a Canadian nationwide, it could quantity to an “unacceptable violation” of Canadian sovereignty, Trudeau mentioned. He added that the killing went in opposition to the conduct anticipated by “free, open and democratic societies” and promised that every one obligatory steps can be taken to carry the perpetrators accountable.

The Home of Commons lately addressed a number of situations of alleged interference in Canadian issues from overseas governments (Picture Supply: Reuters)

As a consequence, the Canadian overseas affairs minister, Mélanie Joly, knowledgeable that Pavan Kumar Rai, an Indian diplomat and the station chief of RAW in Canada, had been expelled from the nation, whereas anticipating the Indian authorities’s cooperation within the investigation, whereas answering questions from reporters in Ottawa. She added that Trudeau has already acquired in contact with British PM Rishi Sunak, together with US President Joe Biden, asking for his or her help within the matter as effectively.

In line with the Canadian public security minister, Dominic LeBlanc, the nation’s nationwide safety advisor and the pinnacle of their spy company have touched down in India for a gathering with their Indian counterparts and to transient them on the allegations lobbed in opposition to them. The energetic murder investigation is being helmed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, he added.

Indian govt’s response

The Indian ministry of overseas affairs, in an official assertion on Tuesday, “utterly rejected” the allegations by branding them as “absurd and motivated”, whereas launching counter-allegations that Canada was harbouring and offering shelter to Khalistani terrorists and extremists that pose a menace to Indian safety. The ministry as a substitute urged the Canadian authorities to take agency and authorized motion in opposition to “anti-India components” and the minority of the Sikh neighborhood that also maintain wishes to arrange a separate Khalistani state, current on their turf.

The overseas ministry additionally responded to the expulsion of Rai by ordering an unnamed Canadian diplomat on Indian soil to depart the nation inside 5 days, justifying it as the federal government’s “rising concern” over Canada’s interference in “inside issues”. Cameron MacKay, the Canadian ambassador in New Delhi, has additionally been summoned to be notified of those developments.

Deemed as “Khalistani terrorist” by NIA, beloved to Canadian Sikhs

Canada is dwelling to round 8 lakh Sikhs, with nearly all of them residing in Brampton, a suburb in Toronto, and Surrey. Nijjar, 45, presided as a chief determine on the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara within the metropolis of Surrey, and was publicly devoted within the marketing campaign for a separate Sikh state of Khalistan, usually rolling out peaceable protests in opposition to “violation of human rights in India”, in response to the World Sikh Group. 

In June, he was shot useless by two masked gunmen in his pickup truck parked exterior the gurdwara, sparking outrage and worry inside the Canadian Sikh neighborhood, one of many largest exterior of India. Whereas the RCMP recognized three suspects, no arrests have been made. The police additionally couldn’t verify whether or not the killing was an “assassination” motivated by politics, however nonetheless categorized it as a “focused incident”.

Canada suspects India behind pro-Khalistani leader's murder - Asiana Times
Nijjar’s profile taken from NIA’s web site (Picture Supply: NIA)

The Indian authorities has accused him of radicalising the Sikh neighborhood in Canada to align themselves with the Khalistani trigger by inciting malice and violent actions detrimental to the Indian authorities. It had additionally accused him of being part of a conspiracy to homicide a Hindu priest in Punjab, one thing Nijjar has publicly denied in Canadian media. A bounty of $12,000 was thus positioned on him, together with getting designated by the NIA as a wished prison and a “terrorist” beneath the UAPA act in 2020.

The World Sikh Group, who view Nijjar’s homicide as a politically motivated assassination, mentioned that Nijjar had warned members of the Canadian Safety Intelligence Service of threats over his life virtually a 12 months earlier than his loss of life. In 2016, he despatched a letter to Trudeau by which he rubbished the allegations in opposition to him as “baseless”, whereas defending his pro-Khalistani activism as “peaceable, democratic” and legitimate in response to the Canadian Constitution of Rights and Freedoms.

Sikh teams throughout Canada have hailed Trudeau’s remarks as a constructive step in the direction of justice, with Moninder Singh, a spokesman for the British Columbia Sikhs Gurudwara, appreciating that the prime minister acknowledged the presence of a “overseas hand” behind the homicide. The World Sikh Organisation declared that Trudeau merely confirmed what was already believed by the neighborhood—”India actively targets Sikhs in Canada”.

Canada suspects India behind pro-Khalistani leader's murder - Asiana Times
A July demonstration in Toronto between pro-Khalistani and pro-Indian authorities teams separated by a barricade (Picture Supply: Getty Pictures)

Jagmeet Singh, chief of the oppositional New Democratic Celebration, demanded that the homicide entail appropriate penalties, whereas expressing his shock {that a} overseas authorities was linked to the homicide of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. If the allegations have been to be confirmed true, it could “characterize an outrageous affront to Canada”, mentioned Conservative chief Pierre Poilievre, who known as on the Indian authorities to behave with transparency and coordinate with Canadian authorities within the investigation.

India-Canada ties on fast decline

The Canadian authorities’s open accusations in opposition to the Indian state have been extensively predicted by commentators to additional erode already deteriorating bilateral ties between the 2 nations. Commerce talks that have been earlier scheduled to occur on the finish of the 12 months have been frozen. The Canadian authorities gave minimal info on the choice, whereas India clarified that talks have been paused on account of “sure political developments”. 

Canada suspects India behind pro-Khalistani leader's murder - Asiana Times
India-Canada ties have been visibly frosty when Trudeau arrived for the latest G20 summit in Delhi (Picture Supply: AP)

Tensions have been seen on the latest G20 summit held at New Delhi as effectively, with Trudeau claiming that he inquired PM Modi about Nijjar’s homicide of their assembly. However, Modi accused his Canadian counterpart of failing to take enough motion in opposition to “anti-India” and pro-Khalistani components which are aiming to revive militant help of Khalistan. 

Barely a month after Nijjar’s loss of life, a whole lot of protestors gathered exterior India’s Excessive Consulate constructing in Toronto to voice their outrage over the Indian authorities’s alleged connection to the homicide, with a smaller group protesting in favour of the Indian state. The occasion attracted additional controversy when banners emblazoned with slogans of “Kill India” and labelling Indian diplomats as “killers” have been noticed.