Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the House Of Commons on Monday that “agents of the Indian government” killed Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh community leader, in June—a shocking accusation that will likely escalate already uneasy tensions between the two countries.
Nijjar was shot and killed on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia.
Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, was a leader of a movement that advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh nation called Khalistan, that would be made through the succession of part of India’s Punjab state.
India had declared him a wanted terrorist, and the Khalistan movement is banned in India.
Trudeau, who stated his accusation was based on intelligence gathered by the Canadian government, said his government will pressure Indian officials to cooperate with a Canadian investigation.
Trudeau said he’d directly confronted Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident at the Group of 20 summit meeting earlier this month in New Delhi.
The accusation comes after the Canadian government expelled a top Indian diplomat it suspected had ties to Nijjar’s killing. Tensions between the two countries have been fraught recently. Last week, Trudeau halted negotiations for a trade deal, and during this month’s Group of 20 Summit, Modi declined to meet with Trudeau.
771,000. That’s roughly how many Sikhs live in Canada. The country has the largest number of Sikhs outside of India in the world, with the largest communities in Brampton, Ontario and Surrey. Canada has around 1.4 to 1.8 million residents of Indian heritage.
“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau said at the House of Commons.
Justin Trudeau Accuses India in a Killing on Canadian Soil (The New York Times)