India’s government Tuesday dismissed allegations it was involved in the assassination of a Sikh leader on Canadian soil and expelled a Canadian diplomat from the country, in response a similar move by the Canada a day earlier.
India’s foreign ministry issued a statement on Tuesday rejecting allegations that its “agents” were involved in the killing of Sikh leader and Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, adding the claims were “absurd and motivated.”
New Delhi said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made “similar allegations” to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had also “completely rejected” the accusations.
India’s government said it was expelling a Canadian diplomat from the country, adding it was concerned about “the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities.”
Addressing Parliament on Monday, Trudeau said the country’s security agencies were pursuing “credible allegations” of links between “agents of the government of India” and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, a Sikh-Canadian leader who was born in the North Indian state of Punjab, had been labelled a “terrorist” by his country of birth for supporting the formation of an independent Sikh homeland of Khalistan.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said a top Indian diplomat, who she claimed was working for India’s intelligence agency, was expelled from the country as a result of the incident.
India’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “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. That Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a matter of deep concern.”
Trudeau said Monday: “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.”
White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson on Monday said Washington was “deeply concerned” about the allegations raised by Trudeau and said it hopes that the perpetrators are brought to justice. President Joe Biden has sought closer ties with India, viewing it as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region as a counterbalance against China.