Relations between India and Canada nosedived as New Delhi on Tuesday firmly rejected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s charge that his country’s security agencies had “credible” intelligence that the Indian government was behind the June 2023 murder of a pro-Khalistan leader in British Columbia Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
”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 the Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated. Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), and were completely rejected,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a strongly-worded statement.
In a tit-for-tat action, India also expelled a senior Canadian diplomat after Canadian Foreign Minister Melania Joly’s office announced the expulsion of Indian diplomat Pavan Kumar Rai, who, the Canadian authorities claimed, was the head of RAW in Canada.
”The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India. The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days,” the MEA said. The decision, it said, reflected New Delhi’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in India’s internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities.
In a sensational claim, the Canadian PM told his country’s Parliament that 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. He said he raised the issue with PM Modi in “no uncertain terms” during his recent visit to New Delhi to attend the G20 Summit.
He said, “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.” So far, the Canadian government has not made public any evidence it has for its claim of the Indian government’s hand in Nijjar’s killing.
Trudeau’s charge was followed by an official announcement from his Foreign Minister Joly that Canada had expelled a senior Indian diplomat. A 1997 batch Indian Police Service officer, Rai was posted to Ottawa as minister (eco, coordination, community affairs) in the Indian High Commission.
In its statement hours after Trudeau’s charge, New Delhi said India was a democratic polity with a strong commitment to the rule of law. ”Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” the MEA added.
It noted that Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements which was a matter of deep concern. The space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organised crime was not new.
”We reject any attempts to connect the Government of India to such developments. We urge the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” the MEA added.