New Delhi: In a reciprocal move following recent developments, India has opted to expel a high-ranking Canadian diplomat, whose identity remains confidential, granting a five-day timeframe for their departure from Indian soil.
This action follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent assertion implicating India in the June assassination of a Khalistani terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Trudeau contended that his government possesses "credible allegations" connecting Nijjar's killing to individuals affiliated with the Indian government. This allegation has significantly intensified tensions between the two nations.
During an emergency parliamentary session, Trudeau stressed the inadmissibility of any foreign government's involvement in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian territory, viewing it as an infringement on sovereignty and at odds with the principles upheld by free, open, and democratic societies.
In response to Trudeau's allegations, India summoned Canadian High Commissioner Cameron MacKay, categorically refuting the claims and expressing profound concern over Canadian political figures openly aligning with these elements.
The Indian government contends that these unverified allegations divert attention from the presence of Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have sought refuge in Canada, presenting an ongoing threat to India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Highlighting Canada's history of sheltering various illicit activities, such as homicides, human trafficking, and organised crime, the Indian government has called upon Canada to promptly address all "anti-India elements" operating within its borders.
Canada, in its response, has opted not to disclose the identity of the expelled Indian diplomat. Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie revealed that the individual held the position of head of India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), in Canada.
At the heart of this dispute lies Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who led the Khalistani Tiger Force and the Canadian arm of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ). Nijjar was fatally shot near a gurdwara in Surrey in June.
Originally hailing from Punjab's Jalandhar, Nijjar had relocated to Canada in 1997 and was wanted in India for his alleged role as the mastermind behind the activities of the Khalistani Tiger Force, designated as a terrorist organisation.
India had previously announced a monetary reward for Nijjar's capture in connection with the murder of a Hindu priest in Jalandhar and his purported involvement in the 2007 cinema bombing in Punjab.
Furthermore, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was investigating recent attacks on Indian diplomatic missions in Canada, the UK, and the US.Canada has emerged as a significant hub for expatriate Sikhs, raising concerns about the proliferation of extremism in recent years.
In the past few months, Canada has witnessed various Khalistani activities, including protests outside the Indian Embassy and the display of threatening posters targeting Indian diplomats.
Given the escalating diplomatic tensions, Canada has opted to postpone a scheduled trade mission to India, originally slated for October.
This decision comes after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concerns at the G20 summit in Delhi about the surge in secessionist activities and attacks on Indian diplomatic missions by Khalistan supporters in Canada.