Justin Trudeau said there was “credible evidence” that India was responsible for the alleged assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Canadian Sikh leader.
The Canadian Prime Minister’s allegations risk further straining relations between the two nations. On Monday, Trudeau told Canada’s House of Commons that in recent weeks national security authorities had investigated allegations that New Delhi was behind a state-sponsored assassination.
He said he raised the issue “in clear terms” with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the two met briefly in New Delhi last week for the G20 summit.
“Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil constitutes an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he said. “Canada is a country of the rule of law, the protection of our citizens to defend our sovereignty is fundamental.
“Our top priorities have therefore been for our law enforcement and security agencies to ensure the continued safety of all Canadians. And secondly, that all measures be taken to hold the perpetrators of this murder accountable.
Trudeau said the alleged murder “is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves.”
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, who is Sikh, said there must be consequences for the killing. “Hearing the Prime Minister of Canada corroborate 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 said.
“We will ensure that no obstacle is overlooked and that all possible links are examined. »
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said the allegations, if true, “represent a scandalous affront to Canada,” adding that citizens should be protected from extrajudicial killings.
He added: “Canadians deserve to be protected on Canadian soil. We call on the Indian government to act with utmost transparency as authorities investigate this murder, because the truth must come out. »
In June, Nijjar was shot and killed outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. He was a strong supporter of the Khalistan movement, which seeks to create an independent homeland for Sikhs in India’s Punjab region.
New Delhi previously claimed Nijjar was part of a plan to assassinate a Hindu priest in Punjab, offering a bounty of almost $12,000 (£9,688). The deadly Nijjar shooting led many to accuse India of playing a role in the killing.
“Today, the Prime Minister of Canada publicly stated what Sikhs in Canada have known for decades: India is actively targeting Sikhs in Canada,” the World Sikh Organization said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada would expel a “key Indian diplomat” in the coming days and “expects India to fully cooperate with us and eventually get to the bottom of this matter” .
The diplomat is head of the Research and Analysis Wing (Raw), India’s foreign intelligence agency in Canada. “We will hold the perpetrators accountable and bring them to justice,” said Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, adding that the RCMP was leading the investigation into the murder.
The Indian High Commission in Ottawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This announcement comes a week after Trudeau’s visit to New Delhi for the G20, where signs of tensions with Modi had appeared. After the meeting, Modi’s office said the Indian leader was “deeply concerned about the persistence of anti-India militant extremist elements in Canada.”
India and Canada are negotiating a trade deal, but negotiations have been suspended.