Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused the Indian government of being linked to the recent murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Sikh activist. Nijjar, 45, was shot dead by masked gunmen in June outside a gurdwara in Surrey, Canada.
In remarks to parliament, Trudeau said he raised the issue with Indian PM Narendra Modi at the recent G20 summit, stating that “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
India strongly rejected the claims as “absurd” and “politically motivated,” accusing Canada of sheltering “Khalistani terrorists and extremists” who threaten India’s security. The Indian external affairs ministry urged Canada to take legal action against “anti-India elements” operating from its soil.
The murder inflamed tensions between the two countries, already strained over Canada’s criticism of India’s human rights record. In retaliation for Trudeau’s comments, India expelled a senior Canadian diplomat, following Canada’s earlier expulsion of an Indian diplomat connected to the case.
Nijjar was a vocal advocate of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland sought by some groups in India’s Punjab region. His killing came amid increasing pressure from India on Canada and other countries with Sikh populations to crack down on such separatism.
The White House expressed concern over Trudeau’s allegations, stating that Canada’s investigation should proceed to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Sikh groups in Canada welcomed Trudeau confirming their belief that India was involved in Nijjar’s death. But India maintains he was a terrorist leading a militant group, accusations his supporters deny.
The murder follows the recent suspicious deaths of two other overseas Sikh figures linked to the Khalistan movement. As Canada-India tensions worsen, Trudeau’s focus on Indian involvement in the killing of a Canadian Sikh leader looks set to become a major diplomatic dispute.