India Ousts High-Ranking Canadian Envoy Amid Escalating Dispute Over Alleged Indian Involvement in Sikh Activist’s Death

by Sophia Chen
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Diplomatic Tensions between India and Canada

India forcefully rejected claims that its government had any involvement in the assassination of a Sikh campaigner in Canada, terming the allegations as “unfounded.” Subsequently, India ejected a high-ranking Canadian diplomat, accusing Canada of meddling in its internal matters.

This development follows remarks made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who stated that there were credible accusations linking India to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar, a proponent of Sikh independence from India, was fatally shot on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural facility in Surrey, British Columbia. In response, Canada had earlier expelled a senior Indian diplomat.

Speaking to the Parliament on Monday, Trudeau declared, “The engagement of any foreign government in the assassination of a Canadian citizen within Canadian borders is an intolerable breach of our sovereignty.” He urged India to collaborate with Canadian authorities to unravel the truth behind the incident.

The reciprocal expulsions signify the increasing strain in Canada-India relations. Scheduled trade negotiations have come to a standstill, and Canada recently canceled an impending trade delegation to India planned for the autumn season.

Previous Coverage

  • Canada removes an Indian envoy as it probes Sikh activist’s death; India refutes supposed connection
  • Indian authorities capture Sikh separatist leader following extensive search
  • Windows damaged at Indian consulates in London and San Francisco

In its formal statement regarding the diplomat’s removal, India’s Ministry of External Affairs indicated that “the action mirrors the escalating concerns of the Government of India regarding the intrusive activities of Canadian diplomats within our domestic affairs, which include activities that are anti-Indian.”

At the time of his death, Nijjar had been orchestrating an unofficial poll in India for a separate Sikh nation. Indian officials had earlier offered a monetary reward for information leading to his arrest, charging him with an alleged assault on a Hindu cleric in India.

India has consistently accused Canada of backing the Sikh independence or Khalistan movement—a campaign outlawed in India but finding support among considerable Sikh communities in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom.

Earlier in March, India had summoned Canada’s High Commissioner in New Delhi to express grievances about Sikh independence protests taking place in Canada. In 2020, Indian foreign officials had similarly summoned a top Canadian diplomat over Trudeau’s comments regarding agricultural protests in Punjab, home to a significant Sikh population.

Canada hosts a Sikh community numbering over 770,000, accounting for about 2% of its entire population.

During last week’s G20 summit in New Delhi, Trudeau discussed Nijjar’s death with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trudeau emphasized that any involvement from the Indian government would be deemed unacceptable and sought India’s cooperation in the ongoing investigation.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs refuted these claims, describing them as “baseless and politically motivated,” designed to divert attention from Khalistani extremists sheltered in Canada who pose threats to India’s territorial integrity.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly revealed that Canada had ousted a senior Indian diplomat, identified as the chief of Indian intelligence in Canada. She stated, “If these allegations are substantiated, this would constitute a severe violation of international norms governing inter-state relations. Consequently, a high-ranking Indian diplomat has been expelled.”

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced that Canada’s national security adviser and spy agency chief have traveled to India to confront Indian intelligence agencies about the allegations, in what he described as an active homicide investigation led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Global Responses

Joly mentioned that Trudeau had also discussed the issue with U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson expressed deep concern, urging that

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