PM says India behind killing of Sikh leader

Canada’s relationship with India just got a lot more complicated.

What happened: Canadian intelligence has credible evidence that India was behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Sikh leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons yesterday.

  • Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, was shot dead by two masked gunmen outside a Sikh gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, back in June.
  • Before the murder, CSIS had warned Nijjar that he might be targeted because of his support for turning a part of India into an independent Sikh state of Khalistan.

Why it matters: The explosive revelation throws a cold bucket of water on (what was) Canada’s flourishing relationship with India and will likely trigger diplomatic retaliation. 

  • Officials have ruled out severing relations with India, per The Globe and Mail, but Canada expelled a diplomat seen as the “head” of Indian intelligence in Canada.
  • The federal government also suspended negotiations over a new trade deal with India earlier this month and postponed a trade mission planned for October.

Zoom out: Trudeau’s frosty relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on display at last week’s G20 meeting, where he said he confronted Modi with the allegations. 

  • India says it denied the claims then, and repeated that denial yesterday.
  • Modi also said he raised concerns with Trudeau about “anti-Indian activists of extremist elements in Canada” that promoted “secessionism,” a reference to supporters of Khalistani independence.

What’s next: Expect Canada to take steps to pressure India into cooperating with the investigation into Nijjar’s murder.—TS