Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has underscored the safety of the Sikh community in Canada as a key concern while expressing the necessity to create a deterrent effect on India. He publicly accused New Delhi of involvement in the assassination of a pro-Khalistan activist, citing reasons to safeguard the Sikh community in Canada.
During an address to Canada’s House of Commons on September 18, Trudeau announced that his government was pursuing credible allegations linking agents of the Indian government to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent figure advocating for a separate Khalistan nation-state within India.
The Indian government strongly denied these allegations and demanded evidence from Ottawa to support the claims.
Trudeau stated in an interview with the Canadian Press that his public criticism of India’s actions was intended to serve as a deterrent to protect the well-being of Canadians. He revealed that the decision to make the accusations public came after a series of diplomatic conversations, including high-level meetings with Indian officials.
“We believed that despite our diplomatic efforts, a further step was necessary to deter the Indian government from potential actions. By publicly stating our credible reasons to believe they were involved, we aimed to discourage any continuation or consideration of such actions,” Trudeau stated in the interview.
Reportedly, Trudeau raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit in New Delhi but described the talks as unproductive. He also indicated that Ottawa plans to present evidence as the investigation progresses.
Trudeau additionally accused India of launching a campaign to undermine Canada through misinformation and disinformation in the Indian media, following the initial allegations. Subsequently, India suspended visa services for Canadians and expelled 41 Canadian diplomats, citing a need for parity. Trudeau condemned this move as a breach of the Vienna Convention.
These revelations coincide with the US urging India, a part of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence sharing alliance, to investigate a case involving a US-based Khalistan activist.
The circumstances surrounding Nijjar’s death in Canada seem connected to an alleged assassination attempt against Sikh secessionist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York. US officials claimed an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, was directed by New Delhi to carry out the attack. India, denying such tactics align with its policies, initiated a high-level committee to investigate the matter.
India has designated Nijjar and Pannun, who are linked to the pro-Khalistan organization ‘Sikhs for Justice,’ as terrorists. According to reports, Pannun made threats to target the Indian parliament on the anniversary of a 2001 attack, leading to enhanced security measures.
An incident occurred in the Indian parliament when intruders breached security and deployed yellow smoke. Simultaneously, demonstrators used similar-colored gas canisters outside the building. The Ministry of Home Affairs ordered an inquiry into the incident, leading to the arrest of all involved individuals.
After the disruption, Pannun declared monetary aid for the people implicated in the violation.