Last Updated: September 19, 2023, 09:21 IST
Canada’s allegations that the Indian government could be involved in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on its soil are baseless and wrong, top Indian government sources told News18 on Tuesday, also rejecting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims of ” violation of sovereignty”.
Dealing another blow to diplomatic ties, Canada has said it is “actively pursuing credible allegations linking Indian government agents” to the murder of 45-year-old Nijjar in British Columbia in June. It also expelled a senior Indian diplomat.
“The allegations are baseless and wrong. The Trudeau government failed to take action against Khalistani separatists who are sitting in Canada and carry out killings in India,” a top government official said. “We also reserve the right to response and it will be given diplomatically at the right time.”
“Canada should respond to our investigations and handover all perpetrators immediately,” the official added.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. Nijjar was a hardline proponent of an independent Khalistani state and was designated by India as a “terrorist” in July 2020.
Trudeau’s comments mark a significant escalation in tensions between Canada and the world’s largest democracy, with New Delhi repeatedly flagging Sikh separatist activity in Canada. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had conveyed his strong concerns to Trudeau at the G20 summit over recent demonstrations in Canada by Sikhs.
Top intelligence sources had told News18 earlier this month that the Justin Trudeau government is aware of the anti-India activities and propaganda of pro-Khalistan groups in Canada, but is sitting on several extradition requests from Indian authorities to protect its constituency in domestic politics under the guise of upholding freedom of speech.
According to sources, pro-Khalistani entities in Canada are using Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh riots that broke out in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination as tools to radicalise generations born after 1984. At parades like the recent ‘Khalistan Freedom Rally’ in Toronto, such groups have openly called for violence against India, but no action has been taken against them by the Canadian authorities.
Sources added that while the entities are backed by ISI, killings and violence at their behest are being executed in India by gangsters operating from jails in Delhi and Punjab.
Sources said extradition requests sent by the NIA involve individuals accused of terrorism, murder and other related offences, but cooperation has not been forthcoming from Canadian quarters.
Prime among these requests is one for the extradition of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) member Lakhbir Singh Sandhu alias Landa (originally from Tarn Taran in Punjab) who carried a reward of Rs 15 lakh.
Landa’s aide Arshdeep Singh Gill alias Arsh Dalla is also based in Canada and is linked to the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). Dalla was designated as an “individual terrorist” by the Ministry of Home Affairs on January 9, 2023.