In a tit-for-tat, India expels Canadian diplomat; rejects Justin Trudeau’s charges as ‘absurd and motivated’

New Delhi, September 19

A new chill entered India’s already-frosty ties with Ottawa after the Foreign Office here summoned the Canadian High Commissioner on Tuesday and expelled a senior diplomat in retaliation after Canada asked an Indian diplomat to leave the country and its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that the Indian Government may have had links to the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey in June.

Following Trudeau’s address to Parliament where he made the allegation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) vigorously rejected Trudeau’s statement and revealed that the Canadian PM had made similar allegations during his brief “pull-aside” meeting with PM Narendra Modi on the margins of the G20 on September 10 and (the allegations) “were completely rejected”.

They also recalled a series of demarches served on Canada, including one four years back, after Trudeau’s comments on the farmers’ stir encouraged gatherings of Khalistani separatists in front of the Indian High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raised issues of safety and security. Last month, Canada had pushed back at suggestions from India to send a team of National Investigation Agency to probe the threats to safety to Indian diplomats and the diplomatic missions.

Nijjar, who allegedly made an undocumented entry into Canada, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18. The Indian government had already declared him a terrorist.

This has the potential to have more expansive effects, including reputational — and the latter impact will not be the same outside and inside India.

Sources said Trudeau made up his mind to go ballistic against India during the time he was held up in India after his special aircraft developed a mechanical fault. As part of that plan he despatched his NSA Jody Thomas to London to brief her British counterpart while he personally set up calls to acquaint the leaders of the US and Australia about the development.

Ministry of External Affairs

“We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law. Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern. That Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a matter of deep concern.

The space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organised crime is not new. We reject any attempts to connect the Government of India to such developments. We urge the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil.”

Pro-separatist Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh whose party supports Trudeau govt

“Today we learned of allegations that agents of the Indian Government murdered Hardeep Singh Nijjar — a Canadian killed on Canadian soil. To all Canadians, this is my vow. I will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of justice, including holding Narendra Modi accountable.”

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves.”

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