Row over Nijjar's killing: India retaliates; expels senior Canadian diplomat

The MEA has called Canada's charges 'absurd and motivated'

Canada India Sikh Slain A photograph of late temple president Hardeep Singh Nijjar is seen on a banner outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, British Columbia, on Monday | AP

In a tit-for-tat move, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has asked a senior Canadian diplomat to leave India within the next five days, hours after Ottawa expelled a top Indian diplomat.

Canada on Monday cited a possible Indian link in the murder of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist leader who was gunned down on June 18 in British Columbia, for the expulsion of intelligence chief Pavan Kumar Rai.

After this, the MEA summoned the High Commissioner of Canada to India and informed him about the decision 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," the statement added. 

Earlier on Monday,  the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) dismissed Canada's accusations of India's role in the murder of Nijjar. A statement issued by the MEA called the allegations "absurd and motivated."

"We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated," the statement shared by Arindam Bagchi, official spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, read.

The statement added that India was a democratic polity with a strong commitment to the 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," said a foreign ministry statement.

India also expressed concern at the way Canadian political figures are "openly expressing sympathy for such elements." It urged the Canadian government to take strong and effective action against the anti-India elements operating from their soil.

This comes as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons that the country was investigating credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and Nijjar's death. He added that he raised the murder directly with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi last week and urged the government of India to "cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter"."


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