Hours after rejecting PM Justin Trudeau's allegations over Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, New Delhi has expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move as the relationship between the two nations hit rock bottom.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has alleged that there are “credible allegations of a potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey in British Columbia in June.
Soon after Trudeau levelled the allegations against the Indian government in the country's Parliament, Canada’s foreign minister Mélanie Joly announced the expulsion of a “top Indian diplomat”.
In a befitting reply to Ottawa, India has sacked a Canadian diplomat and asked him to leave the country within the next five days.
A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs reads, "The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India. The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days.
"The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities."
Justin Trudeau issues fresh statement
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said that he is not looking to "provoke" India or "escalate" tension, but wants New Delhi to take the killing of a Sikh separatist with "utmost seriousness".
"We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We want to work with the government of India to lay everything clear and to ensure there are proper processes," Trudeau told reporters.
India rejects allegations
India's Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement and said the allegations made by the Canadian government were 'absurd and motivated'.
"Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister and were completely rejected," read the statement issued by the MEA.
"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," read the statement.
Also Read: India-Canada ties hit a low as Justin Trudeau expels diplomat over Khalistani leader’s killing in June
"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," the statement said.
Amarinder Singh rejects Canada's claims
Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has rejected Trudeau's claims and called it 'baseless'.
Criticising Trudeau, he wrote on X: "The claims by the Canadian PM @JustinTrudeau that there was an Indian hand in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjer are completely baseless and he's only playing to the vote bank gallery."
Singh said: "During his visit to Amritsar in 2018, I had brought to the notice of Mr Justin Trudeau as to how the Canadian land was being used against India, still the Canadian govt failed to take any remedial measures so far."
Five Eyes alliance refused to publicly condemn
Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes nations like the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, has refused to publicly condemn the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in a joint statement, media reports said.
The Washington Post, quoting a Western source, reported that the alliance members "privately raised’’ the issue before the G20 summit.
Justin Trudeau also raised the issue with French President Emmanuel Macron, the report claimed as quoted by Hindustan Times.
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.