India denies role in Sikh leader’s murder in Canada

(BBC) India has strongly rejected allegations by Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau that it had any role in the death of a Canadian Sikh leader.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on 18 June in British Columbia.

Mr. Trudeau said Canadian intelligence had identified a “credible” link between his death and the Indian state.

India’s foreign ministry described the claims as “absurd” and politically motivated.

“We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law,” the ministry said in a statement.

Mr. Nijjar, 45, was shot dead in his vehicle by two masked gunmen on a mid-June evening in the busy car park of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, a city about 30km (18 miles) east of Vancouver.

A prominent Sikh leader in the western-most province of British Columbia, he publicly campaigned for Khalistan – the creation of an independent Sikh homeland in the Punjab region of India. His supporters have said that he was a target of threats in the past because of his activism.

India has previously described him as a terrorist who led a militant separatist group – accusations his supporters call “unfounded”.

Mr. Trudeau said in parliament on Monday that he had raised the issue of Mr. Najjar’s killing with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent G20 summit in Delhi.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he told lawmakers.

On Tuesday, the White House said it was “deeply concerned” about Mr. Trudeau’s allegations.

India has previously denied any involvement with Mr. Nijjar’s murder and on Tuesday its foreign ministry accused Canada of providing shelter to “Khalistani terrorists and extremists” who threaten India’s security.

“We urge the government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” the ministry said.

Canada says it has expelled an Indian diplomat, Pavan Kumar Rai, over the case.

Mr. Trudeau said Canada had expressed concerns about Mr Nijjar’s death to high-level security and intelligence agencies in India.

He also raised it with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“I continue to ask with a great deal of firmness that the government of India co-operate with Canada to shed light on this situation,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau said that Mr. Nijjar’s shooting has angered Canadians, leaving some fearful for their safety.

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