More trouble for India-Canada ties as both sides expel diplomats over Nijjar murder claim
New Delhi asked a senior Canadian diplomat to exit India within five days after Ottawa linked Khalistan activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s death with the Indian government and expelled an Indian diplomat who it identified as an intelligence officer.
(L-R) Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi (Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
RELATIONS between India and China witnessed a new low on Tuesday (19) when New Delhi expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move after the Justin Trudeau government in Ottawa alleged that it played a role in the elimination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan terrorist in the North American nation in June.
The Canadian diplomat, who was unnamed, was asked to leave India within five days, India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in a statement issued the same day.
It said the Canadian high commissioner to India was summoned and informed about New Delhi’s decision.
“The decision reflects Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” the statement said.
Trudeau government’s charges against India
On Monday (18), Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who recently had an uneasy trip to India for the G20 summit where he was reportedly rebuked by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi over the growing anti-India activities on Canadian soil, said his government had “credible allegations” linking the assassination of Nijjar with the “agents” of the Indian government.
New Delhi rejected the claim as “absurd and motivated”.
Canada’s claim was backed with the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat, who is reportedly a senior official of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
The diplomat India expelled is Olivier Sylvestere, sources said. They added that he is the station chief of the Canadian intelligence agency in India under an official cover.
Recently, talks over free trade between India and Canada got derailed and the scheduled visit by Canada’s trade minister to India in October got postponed.
“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,” Trudeau told an emergency session of the parliament on Monday.
The Indian external affairs ministry reacted by saying 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.”
The statement also claimed that the space given in Canada to various illegal activities such as murder, human trafficking and organised crime is not new and urged the Canadian authorities to take prompt action against alleged anti-India elements operating on its soil.
Nijjar, who led the Khalistan Tiger Force and the Canadian arm of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), was gunned down by unknown attackers near a gurdwara in Surrey in Canada’s British Columbia. Nijjar, who hailed from Jalandhar in the Indian state of Punjab, had moved to Canada in 1997. He was wanted in India for being the alleged mastermind of the KTF, a designated terror outfit in India.