Trudeau says Canada wants answers from India over slain Sikh leader | Albiseyler

Trudeau says Canada wants answers from India over slain Sikh leader

OTTAWA, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Canada is not trying to provoke India by suggesting it was linked to the killing of a Sikh separatist leader, but wants Delhi to deal with the issue properly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Trudeau said Monday that Canadian intelligence agencies are actively pursuing credible allegations linking New Delhi agents to the shooting death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, in British Columbia in June, in a rare such attack on the world’s largest democracy.

India quickly dismissed the claim as absurd and said it would expel the Canadian diplomat, further worsening already poor diplomatic relations between the two G20 members.

After India’s denial, Trudeau was pressured by the Conservative opposition to release the evidence he had.

Trudeau said Tuesday that Ottawa decided to speak now because “we wanted to make sure we had a solid foundation of understanding what was going on … we wanted to make sure we took the time to talk to our allies.”

He told reporters that the case has far-reaching implications in international law.

“The Government of India must take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing so; we are not trying to provoke or escalate,” he said.

The affair derailed protracted talks on a potential bilateral trade deal.

A source familiar with the situation said Canada’s decision on Sept. 1 to suspend talks and on Sept. 15 to postpone a major trade mission scheduled for next month was directly related to fears of the assassination.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Canadian officials have so far declined to say why they believe India could be linked to Nijjar’s murder.

The evidence “will all be shared in due course,” said a senior Canadian government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

“The prime minister has not provided any facts. We need to have the evidence that allowed the prime minister to reach his conclusions yesterday,” Conservative Party chief Pierre Poilievre told reporters.

Canada has been working very closely with the US, including Trudeau’s statement on Monday about his country’s concerns about the killings, a government source said.


Nijjar’s son Balraj, 21, said on Tuesday that he always suspected India was behind the murder, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

“It was only a matter of time before the truth came out,” he was quoted as saying.

Sikh and Muslim organizations welcomed Trudeau’s remarks and called on his government to take swift action, including protecting Sikhs in Canada under threat and preventing Indian nationals linked to intelligence forces or human rights abuses from entering Canada, among other immediate steps.

“To see a Canadian being attacked on Canadian soil by a foreign country – I think we can’t understate how shocking this news is,” World Sikh Canada board member Mukhbir Singh said at a news conference.

National Council of Canadian Muslims CEO Stephen Brown, who spoke alongside Singh, added: “This assassination was an attack on all of us as Canadians. That’s why we must act.”

New Delhi, which has been urging Ottawa to crack down on anti-India elements, has long been unhappy with the activity of Sikh separatists in Canada.

Nijjar supported the creation of a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent state called Khalistan in the Indian state of Punjab in northern India, the birthplace of the Sikh religion, which borders Pakistan. India designated him as a “terrorist” in 2020.

Canada has the largest population of Sikhs outside of Punjab, with about 770,000 people reporting Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.

India has been particularly sensitive to Sikh protesters in Canada, with some Indian analysts saying Ottawa will not stop them because Sikhs are a politically influential group.

The US and Australia expressed “deep concern” over Canada’s allegations. US authorities have urged India to cooperate with the investigation, a senior State Department official told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday.

Canada and India are struggling to shore up the low level of bilateral trade, which was only C$13.7 billion ($10.2 billion) in 2022 out of a total of C$1.52 trillion. Both sides have announced that they are freezing negotiations.

Britain, meanwhile, said it would continue trade talks with India despite the allegations.

($1 = 1.3415 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer; more news from Susan Heavey; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Covering Canadian political, economic and general news, as well as breaking news from North America, formerly based in London and Moscow and winner of Reuters’ Treasury of the Year.

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