In one out of twenty-one instances, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a statement at the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday, September 18, 2023, as captured by Sean Kilpatrick of The Canadian Press via AP.

Canada expelled an Indian diplomat amid a Sikh slaying probe, with India denying involvement.

Canada has expelled a top Indian intelligence official amid a furor over allegations that the Indian government was complicit in the shocking assassination of a Sikh activist on Canadian soil.

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Canada Expels Indian Diplomat Amid Probe into Sikh Activist's Assassination

Canada has expelled a top Indian intelligence official amid a furor over allegations that the Indian government was complicit in the shocking assassination of a Sikh activist on Canadian soil. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed Parliament that Canadian agencies are investigating credible reports linking India to the recent contract-style killing of separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia.

India vehemently denied the "absurd" accusation, instead accusing Canada of sheltering Sikh extremists seeking an independent homeland who threaten India's sovereignty. But Trudeau doubled down, confronting Indian PM Modi at the G20 summit and stressing any foreign government murder of a Canadian citizen would be an "unacceptable violation."

This extraordinary war of words between the two Commonwealth nations follows months of strained ties over Canada's handling of the banned Khalistani movement supporting Sikh independence. With a large politically active Sikh diaspora, the suspected state-sponsored execution of Nijjar on Canadian soil has erupted into a full-blown diplomatic rift.

Canadian PM: India Must Cooperate in Murder Probe or Face Consequences

Trudeau insisted he demanded Modi's cooperation in investigating Nijjar's killing, considered a grave breach of sovereignty if proven. He said expelling the senior Indian diplomat showed this was not mere rhetoric. Canada's Foreign Minister called the alleged transnational assassination attempt “a great violation” of trust between nations.

But India claimed Trudeau raised "unsubstantiated allegations" to unfairly shift focus from violent Sikh separatists given Canadian sanctuary. Officials alleged Canada enables Khalistani extremists to spew anti-India hatred and threaten national security with impunity. However, the brazen public shooting of Nijjar has put India firmly on the defensive.

Gunned Down After Advocating Sikh Referendum

Nijjar, a prominent pro-Khalistan voice, was shot dead in June outside a Sikh gurdwara shortly after promoting an unofficial independence vote. Indian police had offered a bounty for him over allegedly ordering an attack on a Hindu priest. Canada is probing if rogue Indian agents took matters into their own hands.

Mourners bear the casket of Sikh community leader and temple president, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, during Antim Darshan, the initial segment of a day-long funeral service held in Surrey, British Columbia, on Sunday, June 25, 2023. On Monday, September 18, Canada took the step of expelling a top Indian diplomat as it delves into what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has labeled as credible allegations linking India's government to the assassination of the Sikh activist. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

The activist had allegedly been warned by Canadian intelligence of an assassination plot before his murder. His lawyer claims Nijjar was targeted by "mercenaries" hired by India. Trudeau has been briefing major allies, underscoring the gravity of the situation. Domestically, the suspected contract killing involving a foreign power has created an uproar.

The Latest Flashpoint in Fraying Canada-India Relations

The Expulsion of the Senior Diplomat is the latest Flashpoint in the Deteriorating ties between Canada and India:

  • Trudeau's Liberal Party has been accused of being too soft on Khalistani groups
  • India roiled over Canada's response to farmer protests last year
  • Ongoing disputes over Sikh separatism have stalled trade negotiations
  • Indian politicians frequently allege Canada shelters Khalistani extremists
  • Modi reportedly complained to Trudeau about the matter at the recent G20
  • Both nations are jockeying for global influence with large diasporas

Against this strained backdrop, the alleged assassination on Canadian territory represents an explosive new low that requires decisive action. Unless credibly resolved, this issue may poison the relationship long-term.

In New Delhi, India, a Delhi police officer provides a briefing to a contingent of Indian paramilitary soldiers outside the Canadian High Commission on Tuesday, September 19, 2023. Tensions between India and Canada have soared in the wake of the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government. Canada has also accused India of having connections to the assassination of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, who was a fervent advocate for an independent Sikh homeland. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Why the Khalistan Issue Matters

The Separatist Cause Reviving Tensions has a Complex History in the Sikh context:

  • Khalistan refers to a proposed independent Sikh state in India
  • The secessionist movement peaked during the Punjab insurgency in the 1980s-90s that killed thousands
  • India has long seen it as a national security threat to be suppressed
  • But the concept still enjoys support among some Sikhs, especially in the diaspora
  • Indian authorities often accuse overseas Sikhs of radicalization and anti-India plots
  • Canadian Sikhs number over 770,000 and wield political influence
Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly fielding questions from reporters in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on Monday, September 18, 2023. This comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disclosed that Canadian authorities possessed intelligence suggesting potential connections between India's government and the June assassination of a Sikh activist in Canada. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

Given past violence, India considers any Khalistan revival a red line. However, crackdowns on moderate pro-Khalistan voices abroad like Nijjar remain controversial.

Fallout and Implications of the Diplomatic Expulsion

Canada's dramatic expulsion of the Indian official has rattled relations:

  • It represents an escalation showing Canada's willingness to confront India
  • Sets a precedent other nations may follow if evidence proves strong
  • Puts pressure on India's global image if links are established
  • May trigger retaliatory actions like expelling Canadian officials
  • Further stalls negotiations on a free trade agreement
  • Raises tricky questions on monitoring expat activism without stifling dissent
  • Could worsen Indian perceptions that Canada shelters violent extremists
  • Shows Canada seeks to avoid being perceived as soft against foreign meddling
A gathering of men gathers outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, British Columbia, on Monday, September 18, 2023. It was at this very location that temple president Hardeep Singh Nijjar tragically lost his life in June, gunned down as he left the temple parking lot. On Monday, Canada took the significant step of expelling a top Indian diplomat as it investigates what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described as credible allegations connecting India's government to the assassination of a Sikh activist on Canadian soil. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

With national pride at stake for both nations, climbdowns will be difficult unless justice is demonstrably delivered. But renewed engagement may require even tougher conversations on reconciling complex diaspora identities with nation-state interests. Rebuilding trust after this rupturing of diplomatic ties will be no easy task.

Summarised from the Original Article by -

World NewsCanadaJustin TrudeauHardeep Singh NijjarKhalistaniKhalistanNIjjarTerrorist OrganizationKhalistan Tiger ForceKhalistan Terrorist OrganizationSikh ReferendumWorld Sikh OrganizationSikh RadicalizationCanada Pro KhalistanKhalistani ExtremistsCanadian Khalistani ExtremistsWestern Khalistani ExtremistsIndiaGovernment of IndiaNarendra ModiPawan Kumar RaiIndian High ComissionCanadian High Comission

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