India-Canada Slugfest: Justin Trudeau reiterates allegations against India over Khalistani leader’s killing

The simmering diplomatic spat between India and Canada escalated further as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has once again repeated his charges on India's role in the killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, claiming that there are 'credible reasons' to believe the same.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau once again says there are credible reasons to believe in India's role in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Addressing a press conference at Canada's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, Trudeau was quoted as saying by media: "As I said on Monday, there are credible reasons to believe that agents of the Government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil."

He said: "There is something of utmost foundational importance in a country's rule of law in a world where international rules-based order matters."

He asked the Indian government to 'work' with Canada to ensure full transparency and accountability in the matter.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has said it had asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic presence in India as it cited the "interference of Canadian diplomats in Indian affairs", amid the steadily worsening diplomatic relations.
This came hours after India suspended visa services in Canada, potentially impacting thousands of people seeking to travel to India.

"The Canadian diplomatic presence in India is larger than what India has and accordingly needs to be downsized," India's foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters.

"We have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity in diplomatic presence. Their numbers are much higher than ours in Canada… I assume there will be a reduction," he said.

The spokesperson said, "Canadian diplomatic interference in our internal affairs is a factor."

In a weekly media briefing, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) dismissed Ottawa's allegations about Indian agents' involvement in the murder of the Khalistani terrorist as "politically driven".

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MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said there was a "degree of prejudice" in Canada's allegations. "They have made allegations and taken action on them. To us, it seems that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven."

The MEA statement came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week told parliament that his country's security agencies have been actively pursuing "allegations" of a potential link between Indian government agents and the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.

While New Delhi outrightly rejected Trudeau's allegation, calling it "absurd" and "motivated", the relations between the two countries have worsened with Canada and India expelling a senior diplomat each.

India has also issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals, particularly students, in Canada and also those contemplating travel to the North American country, asking them to exercise utmost caution.

Bagchi confirmed that Canada has not shared any specific information regarding the allegations.

"From our side, very specific evidence of criminal activities based on Canadian soil has been shared with the Canadian authorities on a regular basis but has not been acted upon," the MEA spokesperson said.

The allegations were raised by Trudeau with PM Modi when the Canadian PM was in India to attend the G20 summit. PM Modi rejected the allegations, the MEA reiterated.

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canada-based pro-Khalistan leader, was shot dead in Surrey city, British Columbia province in June.

He had been a leading figure in the Khalistan separatist movement and was closely associated with Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).

Nijjar was also serving as the president of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey.

Nijjar, a member of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was a ‘wanted terrorist’ for his involvement in various acts of violence and subversive activities.