In a recent development, the pro-Khalistan group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promptly remove India’s High Commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Verma, following Trudeau’s confirmation that the Indian government was implicated in the assassination of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver about three months ago.
According to Reuters, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent supporter of an independent Sikh homeland (Khalistan) and a local leader of Sikhs For Justice and the Khalistan Referendum campaign, was fatally shot on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia.
Prime Minister Trudeau made a startling statement before the parliament, acknowledging that Canada’s national security agencies were investigating “credible allegations” of the involvement of “agents of the government of India” in Nijjar’s killing on Canadian soil.
Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced the expulsion of the head of Indian intelligence in Canada, Pavan Kumar Rai, who operated from the Indian High Commission and was associated with India’s foreign intelligence agency, RAW. Joly described this as a significant breach of sovereignty and diplomatic norms.
Trudeau revealed that he had discussed the assassination with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G-20 summit and expressed Canada’s strong disapproval of any Indian government involvement. He also requested cooperation in the investigation.
Trudeau emphasized that the Canadian government has conveyed its concerns to the Indian government and has been collaborating with international allies on the matter. He urged India to cooperate fully in resolving the issue.
Tensions between Canada and India have escalated in recent months, with Canada canceling a planned trade mission to India.
Opposition leaders, including Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, expressed outrage over the allegations, considering them a serious violation of Canada’s sovereignty.
The Khalistan Referendum took place on September 10, with over 135,000 Canadian Sikhs casting their votes at Surrey BC’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, where Nijjar was assassinated. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun addressed the crowd, vowing that Sikhs would seek justice for Nijjar’s killing and alleging the direct involvement of Indian diplomats and intelligence agencies.