Trudeau says ‘Indian agents’ may have murdered Canadian Sikh leader

The Canadian PM said that he received “credible allegations” that New Delhi was behind the assassination of a Sikh independence activist

Canadian intelligence agents have uncovered “credible allegations” that the Indian government assassinated a Sikh independence activist in Ontario earlier this summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday. The slain Sikh was associated with a radical movement that targeted Indian diplomats in Canada and the UK.

“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 told members of parliament.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he continued, before calling on New Delhi to “cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter.”

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Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 46, the head of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, British Columbia, was murdered on June 19. He was shot at point-blank range by two unidentified gunmen on the premises of the gurdwara while he was heading out for his home in Surrey, about 30km from Vancouver.

Nijar was a member of the Khalistan movement, which demands that a sovereign homeland for the minority community be carved out of the north Indian state of Punjab. The movement waged a guerilla campaign against the Indian state during the 1970s and 1980s, most notably claiming responsibility for the bombing of Air India Flight 182, which was blown up off the coast of Ireland in 1985, killing all 329 people on board.

Members of the movement protested in Canada and the UK after Nijar’s killing, accusing the Indian government of involvement and calling for retributive attacks on Indian officials. 

In response, New Delhi called on British and Canadian authorities to clamp down on the separatists. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar accused Canadian politicians of neglecting the apparent threat posed by the Khalistan activists in exchange for Sikh votes.

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“For us, how Canada has dealt with the Khalistan issue has been a long-standing concern… Very frankly, they seem to be driven by vote bank politics,” Jaishankar said in July.

The Indian government has not yet responded to Trudeau’s claims. Trudeau told lawmakers on Monday that he “personally and directly” raised the allegations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month.

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