Canada-India tension: mutual expulsion of diplomats over allegations of murder of Sikh leader

The Indian Foreign Ministry today expelled a representative of the Canadian government, in response to the similar decision taken by Canada regarding one of its diplomats and to the accusations made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against the Indian authorities, suspected of being involved in the murder of the Sikh leader with Canadian citizenship, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, Canada’s British Columbia province, on June 18. Only yesterday the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs said: “The allegations that a representative of a foreign government may have been involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen here in Canada, on Canadian soil, are not only troubling, but completely unacceptable”.

Protests in Canada after the murder of Sikh leader

Relations between the two countries have become tense in recent months following the assassination of the Sikh leader and the protests that followed in Canada. Ottawa, in particular, recently suspended negotiations on a free trade agreement with India. New Delhi, for its part, accuses the Canadian government of turning a blind eye to the activities of radical Sikh nationalists who advocate the creation of an independent Sikh state in Northern India.

India’s response to the accusations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his “deep concern over the continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada” during his meeting with Justin Trudeau at the latest G20 meeting in India early of September. Canada is the country with the largest number of Sikhs outside of their home state of Punjab in India. India’s foreign ministry called Ottawa’s allegations “absurd,” adding: “We are a democratic state with a strong commitment to the rule of law.”