Canada hints India's connection to Sikh leader murder

STORY: Canada said on Monday it had credible information linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia in June – an accusation India dismissed as “absurd and motivated”.

Canada also said it had expelled a senior Indian intelligence official but gave no details.

The separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18.

Nijjar supported a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state and was labelled a “terrorist” by India in 2020, according to Indian media.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday did not directly accuse India of being involved.

However, he did say his country’s security agencies had been pursuing allegations of links between Nijjar’s death and India’s government.

"Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves. As you would expect, we have been working closely and coordinating with our allies on this very serious matter."

Moninder Singh, director of the Canadian Sikh Coalition, said Monday his community wanted to see what Ottawa would do next:

"We have a mixed kind of emotion right now, that's kind of, one is Canada has acknowledged India as an actor and done it from Parliament, and on the other side we are wondering what the next steps will be as well. So, it is mixed feelings at the moment."

Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India. It’s also been the site of many demonstrations that have irked India.

Monday’s announcement will likely further strain bilateral ties, with New Delhi already unhappy that Canadian authorities did not crack down on Sikh protesters.

The two countries were earlier trying to hammer out a trade deal by the end of this year, but have now frozen talks.

Canada gave few details while India cited “certain political developments”.