Day after explosive allegation, Trudeau says he’s not trying to ‘provoke’ India

A day after accusing the Indian government of playing a role in the brazen shooting of a Canadian Sikh leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he isn’t trying to “provoke” the south Asian country.

“We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday, before a cabinet meeting. 

“The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that.”

On Monday, Trudeau made an unprecedented declaration in the House of Commons, accusing agents of the Indian government of helping to kill Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., on June 18.

“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,” Trudeau said Monday in a speech to the House of Commons.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, middle, is seen outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara centre in Surrey, B.C., on July 2, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Nijjar, a supporter of a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent Khalistani state, had been branded a “terrorist” by the Indian government and accused of leading a militant separatist group — something his supporters have denied.

Increased tensions

Tensions between the two countries have been terse, and flared after Trudeau’s announcement. 

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said she had ordered the expulsion of “a senior Indian diplomat.”

Joly’s office said that diplomat is Pavan Kumar Rai, the head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency, in Canada.

In a statement early Tuesday, India’s foreign ministry said the Canadian high commissioner, or ambassador, in New Delhi had been summoned and told of the expulsion decision.

“The decision reflects the government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” the ministry added.

WATCH | Canadians have a ‘right to know’ about allegations linking India to killing of Sikh leader

Canadians have a ‘right to know’ about allegations linking India to killing of Sikh leader

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is not looking to ‘provoke or escalate’ after he said in the House of Commons there were credible allegations linking India to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian who backed the creation of a Sikh homeland in India.

Trudeau said Tuesday that Canada will remain “calm.” 

“We’re going to remain grounded in our democratic principles and values, we’re going to follow the evidence,” he said. 

“But Canadians have a right to know and need to know when things are going on like this. And that’s why we made the decision to [reveal] this.”

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