India hit back at Canada early Tuesday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linked Indian government agents to the shooting death of a Sikh leader near Vancouver.
A statement from India’s Ministry of External Affairs said a senior Canadian diplomat, whose name has not been released, has been asked to leave India within the next five days.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced earlier Monday that Canada was expelling Indian Pavan Kumar Rai, whom her ministry considers in its public register to be a diplomatic agent at the head of an Indian intelligence agency based in Ottawa .
Mr. Trudeau told the House of Commons on Monday that allegations that Indian government agents played a role in the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar were credible.
“In recent weeks, Canadian security agencies have actively investigated credible allegations of a potential link between Indian government agents and the assassination of a Canadian citizen,” he said.
“Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil constitutes an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. Such an act goes against the fundamental rules that govern free, open and democratic societies. »
Mr. Nijjar was killed in the parking lot of his gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18.
While leaders of the Sikh community in Canada have insisted on Indian government involvement, police have previously said they have not established a link to foreign interference.
The Indian government has rejected allegations of involvement in Mr. Nijjar’s death, calling them “absurd and motivated.”
“These unsubstantiated allegations seek to divert attention from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have taken refuge in Canada and continue to threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India,” the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. statement.
India had issued an arrest warrant for Mr Nijjar over his advocacy for a separate Sikh state in India’s Punjab region, which activists call Khalistan. India has long argued that such activists undermine national security, while Canada insists its citizens enjoy freedom of expression if they do not incite violence.
British Columbia police said in a statement late Monday that they were aware of Mr. Trudeau’s comments but could not discuss the details of their investigation. .