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HomeWorldTrudeau Rejects India’s Denial of Involvement in Assassination in Canada | International...

Trudeau Rejects India’s Denial of Involvement in Assassination in Canada | International news

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on Tuesday firmly rejected the Indian government’s denial of any involvement in the murder of a Sikh dissident in Canada, and called on India to take his country’s allegations seriously.

“We are not seeking to provoke or escalate the situation,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “We are simply stating the facts as we understand them and we want to work with the government of India.”

On Monday, the prime minister shocked Canadians when he told the House of Commons that “agents of the Indian government” were behind the June shooting death of Hardeep Singh Nijjara Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, near a Sikh temple in suburban Vancouver, British Columbia.

The prime minister offered no details to support his accusation that a nation had ordered a political assassination on its territory, citing only “credible allegations” that had been pursued by Canadian security agencies for several weeks.

Canada’s intelligence agencies, noting the ongoing police investigation into Nijjar’s murder and the need to protect intelligence gathering methods, have declined to offer further details.

A Canadian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said the intelligence had been collected by several countries. Canada is a member of the so-called five eyes, an intelligence alliance that includes the United States, Great Britain and Australia.

India has long claimed that Canada harbors Sikh terrorists who plot from abroad to fracture the Indian state by providing funding and planning to create a separate Sikh nation called Khalistan within India’s Punjab region. Mr. Nijjar actively participated in that independence movement.

He had been a key organizer in mobilizing members of the British Columbia community to vote for an independent state of Khalistan. The non-binding vote, organized by a Washington, D.C.-based group called Sikhs For Justice, is taking place in several cities around the world.

“I am a Sikh nationalist who believes in and supports the right of Sikhs to self-determination and independence of Indian-occupied Punjab through a future referendum,” Nijjar wrote in a open letter in 2016.

Nijjar’s involvement in the movement for independent statehood was highlighted in India’s firm refusal to participate on Monday.

In its statement, India’s foreign ministry said it rejected “any attempt to connect the government of India” to Nijjar’s murder and accused Canada of harboring “extremists and terrorists” who “continue to threaten the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of India.

Roland Paris, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, said the accusation and denial had created a sense of outrage and anger in Canada that transcends all political lines.

“This is a shocking and appalling set of allegations,” Professor Paris said. “If it is true that India was behind this murder, then it represents the most offensive and egregious form of political interference in a democracy that would parallel the behavior of some of the world’s worst authoritarian leaders.”

On Tuesday morning in Surrey, British Columbia, women in colorful costumes and saris came to offer prayers and join a food service hosted by the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, the temple where Nijjar was president.

Outside the temple last night, Mr. Nijjar’s son, Balraj Singh Nijjar, said his father’s death remains a fresh wound for his family.

“He had even called home about five minutes earlier to prepare dinner,” his son said, speaking to reporters outside the temple. “It was kind of a big shock.”

Mihika Agarwal contributed to this report from Surrey, British Columbia.



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