This Tuesday, India and Canada remained immersed in a serious crisis, with mutual expulsions of diplomats, after the assassination of a Sikh leader in the North American country.
India announced that a senior Canadian diplomat will have to leave the country. “The diplomat concerned has been asked to leave India within the next five days,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The decision is a consequence of “growing concerns about the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal affairs and their participation in anti-Indian activities,” the Ministry explained.
The expulsion responds to that of a senior Indian diplomat announced a few hours earlier by Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told parliament in Ottawa on Monday that there are “credible elements” to suggest India may have been responsible for the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh leader and Canadian citizen, in western Canada in June. past.
“The involvement of any foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil constitutes an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he said in his speech.
Indian police cordon off the area around the Canadian embassy in New Delhi. Photo: EFE
This Tuesday, India described these accusations as “absurd”, denying “any act of violence in Canada.” The statement from the Asian country’s Foreign Ministry stressed: “We are a democratic State with a strong commitment to the rule of law.”
The text added that the accusations “are intended to divert attention from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have found refuge in Canada and continue to threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.”
Singh Nijjar was an activist in favor of the creation of a Sikh state, known as Khalistan, and was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged acts of terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder.
He denied those allegations, according to the World Sikh Organization of Canada, an NGO that claims to defend the interests of Canadian Sikhs.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, during the recent G20 summit in the Indian capital. Photo: AFP
Following Trudeau’s speech on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced the expulsion of the head of the Indian intelligence agency in Canada (RAW).
“Allegations that a representative of a foreign government may have been involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen here in Canada, on Canadian soil, are not only disturbing, they are completely unacceptable,” the minister said.
The Indian government accuses the Trudeau government of turning a blind eye to the activities of radical Sikh nationalists who advocate the creation of an independent Sikh state in northern India.
Canada recently suspended negotiations for a free trade agreement with India and the trade minister last week canceled a planned trip to the country in October.
The Canadian government on Monday urged the Indian government to “cooperate to clarify this case.”
According to Jocelyn Coulon, an international relations researcher and former advisor to Justin Trudeau, these accusations are “very serious and well documented” and, if they turn out to be true, will have “the effect of a bombshell around the world.”
India frequently laments the activity of the Sikh diaspora abroad, especially in Canada, which the government says could revive the separatist movement with financial aid.
The Indian state of Punjab, which has almost 60% Sikh and around 40% Hindu population, saw a violent separatist movement in the 1980s and early 1990s, which killed thousands of people.
According to Indian diplomacy, Trudeau already discussed the accusations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of the recent G20 summit in New Delhi, which were “completely rejected.”
By By Laurence Thomann and Marion Thibaut, AFP agency