PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday revealed in the House of Commons on Monday that Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between Government of India agents and last June’s assassination of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara President Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Trudeau said he had informed the leaders of the opposition about this earlier.
The Prime Minister said: “Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen – Hardeep Singh Nijjar.”
He stressed: “Canada is a rule of law country. The protection of our citizens and defence of our sovereignty are fundamental. Our top priorities have, therefore, been 1.) that our law enforcement and security agencies ensure the continued safety of all Canadians, and 2.) That all steps be taken to hold perpetrators of this murder to account.”
Trudeau said: “Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government. Last week, at the G-20, I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi in no uncertain terms.”
He declared: “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open and democratic societies conduct themselves.”
Trudeau said: “As you would expect, we’ve been working closely and coordinating with our allies on this very serious matter.”
He went on to state: “In the strongest possible terms, I continue to urge the Government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter. I also expect it to reiterate that its position on extra-judicial operations in another country is clearly and unequivocally in line with international law.”
Trudeau said:”I know many Canadians, particularly members of the Indo-Canadian community, are feeling angry, perhaps frightened, right now. Let us not allow this to change us.”
He urged: “Let us remain calm and steadfast in our commitment to our democratic principles and our adherence to the rule of law. This is who we are and what we do as Canadians.”
MEANWHILE, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told the media that Canada had expelled a “top Indian diplomat,” Pavan Kumar Rai, who was head of India’s foreign intelligence agency, “Research and Analysis Wing” or RAW, in Canada.
She said that Trudeau had informed U.S. President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the assassination, and that she herself would be raising the matter with her G7 counterparts at the United Nations in New York on Monday evening.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc revealed that Director David Vigneault of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Jody Thomas, Trudeau’s national security adviser had also recently visited India to discuss the assassination, the Globe and Mail reported.
It’s relevant to note that trade talks between Canada and India were paused this month. Also, a trade mission to India was cancelled.
CONSERVATIVE Leader Pierre Poilievre said: “If these allegations are true, they represent an outrageous affront to Canada, to Canada’s sovereignty. Our citizens must be safe from extrajudicial killings of all kinds, most of all, from foreign governments.”
He added: “Canadians deserve to be protected on Canadian soil. We call on the Indian government to act with utmost transparency as authorities investigate this murder, because the truth must come out.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said: “We know that the practice of the Indian government has been one of division, of violence, persecution, attacking those that are critical of the government. It is now an important time to send a clear message as a democratic country.”
He added: “I grew up hearing many stories that if you raise concerns about human-rights violations in India, that you might be denied a visa, that if you went back to India, you could suffer violence, torture and even death. I grew up hearing those stories. But to hear the Prime Minister of Canada corroborate a potential link between a murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a foreign government is something I could never have imagined.”
Singh later tweeted: “Today we learned of allegations that agents of the Indian Government murdered Hardeep Singh Nijjar — a Canadian killed on Canadian soil. To all Canadians, this is my vow. I will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of justice, including holding Narendra Modi accountable.”
ON Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted: “All countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law. We are in regular contact with our Canadian partners about serious allegations raised in the Canadian Parliament. Important that Canada’s investigation runs its course and the perpetrators brought to justice.”
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said at a press conference at the UN Headquarters: “Look, these are concerning reports, and I note that investigations are still under way, but obviously these are concerning reports, and as I’ve said, we are monitoring these developments closely with our partners, and we’ll continue to do so.”
She also said: “I will confirm that we have raised our concerns with India. I’m not going to go into any further detail on that.”
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adm. John Kirby said: “They are certainly serious allegations and we believe in order to determine how credible they are, there needs to be a thorough investigation.”
He said: “Prime Minister Trudeau has called for that, and so we’ll see how Canada moves forward on this. It’s certainly well within their capacity to do this, and we urge India as well to participate and cooperate in that investigation.”
He added: “It is important to find out exactly what happened.”
On Wednesday, Adrienne Watson, White House National Security Council Spokesperson, said: “Reports that we rebuffed Canada in any way on this are flatly false. We are coordinating and consulting with Canada closely on this issue. This is a serious matter and we support Canada’s ongoing law enforcement efforts. We are also engaging the Indian government.”