Canada accuses India of killing Khalistani supporter Nijjar: What we know so far

Canada accuses India of killing Khalistani supporter Nijjar: What we know so far

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  • September 19, 2023
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In a blunt allegory of the relations between Canada and India, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expelled a top Indian diplomat as he accused the Indian government agents of killing Khalistan supporter Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June this year.

Trudeau, accusing India of Nijjar’s murder, comes days after he was stuck in Delhi for two days after the conclusion of the Group of 20 summit as his aircraft developed a snag.

During the G20 Summit, both Modi and Trudeau repeatedly had a testy meeting. Trade talks have been derailed between the two nations. Canada cancelled a trade mission to India that was planned for the fall.

Now, Trudeau’s accusing India of Nijjar’s murder has shown how low India-Canada relations have plummeted.

What did Canadian PM Justin Trudeau say?

“Over the past number of weeks Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau said on Monday. He added, “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty…In the strongest possible terms, I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter”.

How India responded?

According to the statrement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India has rejected allegations by Canada. “We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated…We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law,” the statement said.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a Sikh separatist leader, who was sympathetic to the cause of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan, carved out of India.

On 18 June, he was shot at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in the city of Surrey in the British Columbia province.

There were suspicions raised by local community members that there may have been foreign interference in the murder of the Sikh separatist leader.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) took the conduct of the investigation. And, on Monday, after months of investigation, Trudeau accused India of killing Nijjar.

In the recently held G20 Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed strong concerns about protests in Canada against India to Trudeau. India has been long sensitive to Sikh protesters in Canada. In June, India criticized Canada for allowing a float in a parade depicting the 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, perceived to be a glorification of violence by Sikh separatists.

Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by two Sikh bodyguards after she allowed the storming of the Golden Temple, Amritsar, aiming to flush out Sikh separatists who demanded an independent homeland to be known as Khalistan.

However, Trudeau at the G20 Summit said that Canada will always defend “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and peaceful protest”.

Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India, and the country has been the site of many demonstrations that have irked India.

Canada is also home to one of the largest overseas communities of Indian origin, which number about 1.4 million out of an overall Canadian population of 40 million. About 770,000 people reported Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.

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