India describes Canadian arrests over the killing of a Sikh activist as “political coercion” | Politics news

In response to the arrest of Indian nationals, Trudeau acknowledged the fear in Canada’s Sikh community but emphasized the “rule of law.”

Canada’s investigation into India’s alleged involvement in the assassination of a Sikh separatist in Vancouver last year is “political coercion,” India’s foreign minister said, after three Indian nationals were arrested in connection with the killing.

On Friday, Canadian police arrested the three for the murder of Hardeep Singh Nigar, saying they were investigating their links to the Indian government, “if any.” He immigrated to Canada in 1997 and obtained citizenship 18 years later.

He was wanted by Indian authorities on charges of terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder, charges he denied. On June 18, 2023, he was shot and killed by masked assailants in the parking lot of the Sikh temple he was driving on the outskirts of Vancouver.

Al-Najjar’s killing led to a deterioration in diplomatic relations between Ottawa and New Delhi last year after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were “credible allegations” linking Indian intelligence to the crime.

India dismissed the allegations as “ridiculous”, temporarily halting visa processing and forcing Canada to significantly reduce its diplomatic presence in the country.

“Blaming India is their political coercion in Canada,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar as saying on Saturday.

Jaishankar said New Delhi sought to persuade Ottawa not to grant Sikh separatists visas or political legitimacy, because they were “causing problems for them.” [Canada]“For us and also for our relationship.”

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He added that Canada “does not share any evidence with us on certain issues.” [and] The police also do not cooperate with us.”

India will wait for Canadian police to share information about the arrested men, Jaishankar said, adding that the suspects “appear to be Indians from some sort of gang background.”

“We have to wait for the police to inform us,” he said. “But, as I said, one of our concerns that we told them is that, you know, they have allowed organized crime from India, specifically from Punjab, to operate in Canada.”

The three Indian nationals, all in their twenties, were arrested in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, on charges of premeditated murder and conspiracy. They were accused of being the attacker, driver and lookout in his killing last June. Canadian police said they were aware that “others may have played a role” in the murder.


Meanwhile, Trudeau, who was speaking Saturday at an event in Toronto celebrating Sikh heritage and culture, acknowledged that many Sikhs in Canada “feel uncomfortable, maybe even afraid right now,” but urged confidence in the justice system.

“Let us remain calm and steadfast in our commitment to our democratic principles and our justice system,” he said.

Trudeau said the arrests “are important because Canada is a rule of law nation with a strong and independent judiciary, as well as a fundamental commitment to protecting all of its citizens.”

Najjar called for the creation of a separate Sikh state, known as Khalistan, carved out of India. Thousands of people were killed in the 1980s during the separatist movement, which was suppressed by Indian security forces. The movement has largely faded within India, but in the Sikh diaspora – the largest community of which is in Canada, with some 770,000 people – it still retains support among a vocal minority.

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India has repeatedly warned the governments of Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom that Sikh separatists are trying to make a comeback.

In November, the US Department of Justice charged an Indian national living in the Czech Republic with planning a similar assassination attempt on US soil.

A Washington Post investigation last week concluded that Indian foreign intelligence officials were involved in the plot, an allegation rejected by New Delhi.

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