In the House of Commons on 19th September 2023, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau levelled a scathing allegation against the Indian agencies for carrying out an assassination. In this plot, a Khalistan
terrorist named Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down outside a gurudwara (Sikh temple) on June 18 2023 in Surrey, British Columbia. The Canadian leader criticized the involvement of the government of India while stating that the state police were still investigating the incident. He pointed out that the issue was discussed with the allies of Canada, but only concerns were raised by the USA, Britain and Australia, while none condemned the act, as the matter was still under investigation. Following this development, the MEA emphasized that the statement was absurd and it showed the growing concern of Canada’s active involvement in Indian politics and anti-India activities.
After sensationalising and pursuing a naming-shaming strategy, Trudeau later backtracked on his statement in an excerpt saying that Canada was not looking to escalate or provoke India. However, Ottawa had already expelled a high-ranking Senior Indian Official; following which India asked its Senior official to leave the country within five days in a four-minute conversation between the summoned Canadian High Commissioner in India and India’s Ministry of External Affairs. As the incidents unfolded, the trade talks were now halted between the countries which were expected to benefit Canada in the long run.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was an Indian citizen who was categorized as a separatist and a terrorist by the Indian government. He was working to destabilize the Indian province of Punjab and was declared absconding by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India. He was also involved in a planned attack that killed a Hindu priest in Jalandhar, India.
Earlier this year, Trudeau arrived in New Delhi with his son to participate in the G20 summit hosted by India. He stated that he had raised the matter of Nijjar’s killing in a separate meeting with his counterpart Narendra Modi. However, Modi had also raised a similar issue, accusing Canada of harbouring separatist elements, despite India’s repeated concerns over the matter for years. At the end of the summit, Trudeau had overstayed his visit due to a technical issue in his plane, but he had declined the offer of a ride from India.
The relationship between Canada and India has been sour for a long time, due to the policies followed by the Canadian government. Trudeau has been accused of supporting the Khalistan movement, which seeks to create a separate Sikh state in India, for his domestic political gains. This has ruffled the ties with India, which considers the movement as a threat to its sovereignty and integrity.