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19 Sep, 2023 06:31

India expels diplomat after Canadian assassination claims

The retaliatory move was announced after Ottawa linked New Delhi's agents to the murder of a Khalistan separatist
India expels diplomat after Canadian assassination claims

Hours after Canada expelled a top Indian diplomat over the Indian government’s alleged involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the leader of the Khalistan separatist movement and a Canadian citizen, New Delhi responded in kind. 

The Canadian high commissioner was summoned by the Indian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday morning and was informed about New Delhi’s decision to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India. He has been asked to leave the country within the next five days, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

India’s decision reflected its “growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” the statement added.

New Delhi’s move comes in response to Canada’s expulsion of Pavan Kumar Rai, the head of the Research and Analysis Wing of India’s external intelligence agency, amid allegations linking the Indian government to the assassination of a Khalistan activist in June.  

Reacting to the accusations, India strongly rejected the Canadian government’s claims, calling them “absurd.” 

“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,” the Ministry of External Affairs stated. 

It added that “the space given in Canada” to acts of violence, including murder, human trafficking, and organized crime “is not new,” and that New Delhi rejects any attempts to connect it with these activities. 

On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an urgent address to lawmakers in Parliament, informing them that the security agencies have been pursuing “credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India” and the killing of Nijjar on Canadian soil. Later, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced the decision to expel the Indian official. 

Ottawa’s stance on Khalistan activism, which seeks an independent Sikh homeland in the Punjab region, was discussed between the Indian and Canadian leaders at the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his “strong concerns” to Trudeau.