India and Canada Expel Each Other’s Diplomats – Crisis Between the Countries Escalates in the Aftermath of the Assassination of Sikh Separatist in British Columbia

The diplomatic relations between India and Canada continue to unravel in a big way, as the two countries announced ‘tit-for-tat’ expulsions of diplomats.

After Justin Trudeau’s explosive allegation that New Delhi was behind an assassination on Canadian soil, India branded the accusations as ‘absurd’.

The Canadian prime minister has doubled down on the accusations that India is implicated in the death of the Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Niijar, who was shot dead in British Columbia, back in June.

The Guardian reported:

“‘India – and the government of India – needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that’, Trudeau said. ‘We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them’.

Trudeau described the allegations as ‘extremely serious’ and warned there were ‘far-reaching consequences’ in international law. ‘We’re going to follow the evidence and make sure that the work is done to hold people accountable’, said Trudeau.”

On Monday, Canada expelled Pavan Kumar Rai, the most senior member of India’s foreign intelligence agency operating in Canada.

Indian authorities were fast to counter the move, ordering a senior Canadian diplomat to leave the country within five days.

Local media reports have named the diplomat as being Olivier Sylvestre, station chief for Canada’s intelligence agency in New Delhi.

India repeated the allegations that Canada was giving safe haven to ‘Khalistani terrorists and extremists’.

“On social media, prominent Indian figures sharply criticized Trudeau. One lawmaker called the Canadian prime minister ‘the biggest joker masquerading as a leader that currently exists on the planet’ and suggested authorities reduce security for the Canadian high commission. A retired general, Gaurav Arya, said the diplomatic mission should be closed and warned the Canadians to “shut shop and leave, before you are thrown out’.

Police have still not publicly identified the two masked men who opened fire on Najjir as he sat in his truck at the rear entrance of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara. The two men fled on foot down a street, through a park and into a waiting car. In August, an integrated homicide team told reporters a silver Toyota Camry was the suspect’s getaway vehicle and authorities were searching for a third suspect.”

Associated Press reported:

“Canada has yet to provide any evidence of Indian involvement, but if true it would mark a major shift for India, whose security and intelligence branches have long been significant players in South Asia, and are suspected in a number of killings in Pakistan. But arranging the killing of a Canadian citizen in Canada, home to nearly 2 million people of Indian descent, would be unprecedented.

[…] Nijjar was wanted by Indian authorities, who had offered a reward for information leading to his arrest. At the time of his killing he was working with the group Sikhs For Justice, organizing an unofficial Sikh diaspora referendum on independence from India.”

Nijjar was warned by Canadian intelligence officials about being targeted for assassination by ‘mercenaries’.

“India’s foreign ministry dismissed the allegation as ‘absurd’ and accused Canada of harboring ‘terrorists and extremists’.

‘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’, it said in a statement Tuesday.”

During the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Trudeau skipped a dinner hosted by the Indian president, and Indian reports alleged that he was ‘snubbed’ by Modi when he only got a quick ‘pull aside’ meeting instead of a proper bilateral one.

Canadian Opposition’s Pierre Poilievre’s reacted to media questions about what more should be done, once the Indian diplomat was expelled by Canada.

Hindustan Times reported:

“Taking a jibe at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his allegations on India for its involvement in the alleged killing of the Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Canada’s opposition leader Pierre Poilievre has said that he should come out clean with all the facts in order to make judgments.

In a media address on Tuesday, Poilievre said, ‘I think the prime minister needs to come clean with all the facts. We need to know all the evidence possible so that Canadians can make judgments on that. The prime minister hasn’t provided any facts. He provided a statement. And I will just emphasize that he didn’t tell me any more in private than he told Canadians in public. So we want to see more information’, Poilievre said.”

India has strongly rejected the allegations regarding the government’s involvement in the fatal shooting of Nijjar.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) termed the allegations ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated’.


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