Trudeau says ‘credible allegations’ India killed Hardeep Singh Nijjar | Albiseyler

Trudeau says 'credible allegations' India killed Hardeep Singh Nijjar

TORONTO – Canadian authorities are looking into “credible allegations” of links linking Indian government agents to the killing of a prominent Sikh leader on Canadian soil, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told lawmakers on Monday.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who advocated for a separate Sikh state in Punjab, India, was fatally shot in his vehicle in June by two masked gunmen outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. nijjar who was born in India but resides in Canada, was the president of the temple. He was 45.

Trudeau, who spoke in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, did not address the allegations. He said he had conveyed his “deep concerns” to India’s top security and intelligence officials and had also conveyed them “personally and directly” and “undoubtedly” to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Group of 20 summit this month.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he said. “It goes against the basic rules by which free, open and democratic societies operate.”

The Indian High Commission in Canada – the equivalent of an embassy among Commonwealth nations – did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trudeau’s explosive announcement came amid strained relations between Canada and India. Canadian officials announced this week that they have canceled a long-planned trade mission to Mumbai next month and suspended trade talks. Modi did not hold an official bilateral meeting with Trudeau during the Group of 20 summit but reprimanded him on the sidelines, according to New Delhi.

Modi expressed “grave concern over the continued anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada”, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement at the time. “They promote secessionism and incite violence against Indian diplomats, damage diplomatic premises and threaten the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship.”

India fears resurgent Sikh separatism

Trudeau said Monday that Canadian authorities were coordinating with their allies to investigate Nijjar’s death. He urged the Indian government to work with them “to get to the heart of the matter”.

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s foreign minister, told reporters on Monday that she had ordered the expulsion of an Indian diplomat she called the “chief” of Indian intelligence in Canada. She said Trudeau raised the allegations with President Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and that they would be the subject of a discussion at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

Dominic LeBlanc, Canada’s public safety minister, told reporters that Canadian security officials had made several trips to India in recent weeks to meet with their counterparts about Nijjar’s killing. He did not directly respond to repeated questions about whether Indian authorities were obstructing Canada’s investigation.

Canada is home to one of the world’s largest Sikh diaspora communities, and the June 18 killing of Nijjar has shaken it. Police described the incident as “targeted” and members of the Sikh community said Nijjar told them he had been warned by Canadian security intelligence about threats against him.

The killing has sparked protests in Canada and abroad, and some Sikhs have said they believe the Indian government, which has labeled Nijjar a “terrorist”, was involved.

“The significance of today’s announcement cannot be understated for Sikhs,” Tejinder Singh Sidhu, president of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, said in a statement. “Today the Prime Minister of Canada publicly said what Sikhs in Canada have known for decades – India is actively targeting Sikhs in Canada.”

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Nijjar’s lawyer, told The Washington Post that he believes Nijjar was the target of organizing a planned non-binding referendum in Canada on whether to create an independent Sikh state in Punjab called Khalistan. Pannun called on Trudeau to expel the Indian High Commissioner to Canada.

Trudeau acknowledged Monday that members of the Indo-Canadian community “feel anger or maybe fear.”

“Let’s not let it change us,” he said. “Let us remain calm and unwavering in our commitment to our democratic principles and upholding the principles of the rule of law.”

Indian officials have sounded the alarm in recent months about what they see as a potential resurgence of the Sikh separatist movement in Punjab. In April, authorities detained Amritpal Singh, a self-described separatist, after a month-long manhunt that saw them impose partial internet shutdowns and censor social media. More than 200 alleged affiliates have also been arrested amid fears of a revival of the Sikh insurgency that flared up in the 1980s.

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Posters for protests following Nijjar’s death, which included photographs identifying Indian diplomats in Canada as his “murderers”, drew criticism from both Indian and Canadian government officials. Joly said at the time that Canada would honor its obligations under international treaties to protect diplomats.

Trudeau traveled to India for a week in 2018. The visit was overshadowed by revelations made by the Canadian High Commission, after which he rescinded a dinner invitation to Jaspal Atwal, a businessman convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian politician in the 1980s.

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The Khalistan movement is banned in India, where authorities see it as the biggest threat to national security, but it has a few sympathizers across the Sikh-majority state of Punjab and among large Sikh communities in Canada, Britain and elsewhere.

About 770,000 people in Canada listed their religion as Sikhism in the 2021 census. When Trudeau became prime minister in 2015, his cabinet included four members of Sikh descent. Jagmeet Singh, leader of the centre-left New Democratic Party, is also a Sikh.

Singh, who attended rallies in Khalistan before becoming party leader, said he grew up hearing stories of India denying visas to members of the diaspora who raised concerns about the country’s human rights record and people suffering “violence, torture and even death ” when they returned. .

“I grew up with those stories, but to hear the Canadian prime minister confirm a potential link between the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a foreign government is something I could never have imagined,” he told lawmakers after Trudeau spoke. “The security that so many Canadians feel has now been shaken, shocked and destabilized.”

Much of Canada’s political debate in recent months has revolved around the alleged interference of foreign governments in the country’s internal affairs. Most of the debate has focused on leaks in the Canadian media about alleged Chinese meddling in the country’s elections, but Jody Thomas, the prime minister’s national security adviser, said India was another source of meddling.

Trudeau’s government, under pressure from opposition lawmakers, announced this month that it would launch a public inquiry into foreign interference. Judge Marie-Josée Hogue was appointed to judge “interference by China, Russia and other foreign states or non-state actors”.

LeBlanc told reporters last week that commissioning the investigation allows Hogue to “follow the evidence and look at all the countries that are trying to intervene.”

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