It was only a few weeks ago that the diplomatic relations between India and Canada were looking very promising at the eyes of the world, and the two countries felt that they could agree on the outlines of a trade deal by end of the year.
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But suddenly, the talks on the agreement were frozen, and during the G20 summit relations appeared to have been derailed in a major way – and now we finally know why.
Disturbing allegations from Canada’s prime minister are likely to further strain relations between the two nations, after Trudeau told the House of Commons of Canada that ‘national security authorities had been probing allegations that New Delhi was behind a state-sponsored assassination’.
“Canada said on Monday it had credible information linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia in June and said it had expelled a senior Indian intelligence official.”
This is a new low point for the bilateral ties, when India has already sharply criticized Trudeau’s administration for not cracking down on Sikh separatists in Canada.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen was ‘an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty’.”
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia, back in June. He supported a Sikh Khalistani state, and had been designated by India as a ‘terrorist’.
“‘Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India’ and Nijjar’s death, Trudeau said in an emergency statement to the House of Commons.
‘Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government. Last week at the G20 I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi in no uncertain terms’.”
Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside of Punjab, in India.
The Guardian reported:
“New Delhi had previously alleged Nijjar was part of a plan to murder a Hindu priest in Punjab, offering a bounty of nearly $12,000. The fatal shooting of Nijjar led many to accuse India of playing a role in the killing.
The foreign affairs minister, Mélanie Joly, said Canada had expelled a ‘key Indian diplomat’ and ‘expects India to fully collaborate with us and ultimately to get to the bottom of this’.
The diplomat is the head of the Research and Analysis Wing (Raw), India’s foreign intelligence agency in Canada. ‘We’ll hold the perpetrators accountable and bring them to justice’, said the public safety minister, Dominic LeBlanc, adding the RCMP was leading the murder investigation.”
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