Canada is expelling a top Indian diplomat in the wake of bombshell allegations that agents from India may have been involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced Monday.
The diplomat is the head of India’s foreign intelligence agency operations in Canada, Pavan Kumar Rai.
If the allegations are proven true, Joly said, it would be a “grave violation of our sovereignty and the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an urgent address to lawmakers in Parliament Monday afternoon informing them Canada’s security agencies have been pursuing for weeks “credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India” and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar earlier this summer on Canadian soil.
“Canada has declared its deep concerns to the top intelligence and security officials of the Indian government,” Trudeau said when he delivered the news in an urgent statement to Canadian lawmakers in Parliament. “Last week at the G-20, I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi in no uncertain terms.”
It comes as Canada’s bilateral relations with India fall under increasing strain.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised concerns with Trudeau on the sidelines of the G20 summit last week regarding Sikh separatist protests in Canada.
Canada abruptly suspended a trade mission with India Friday amid strained relations between the two countries.
Canada’s Liberal government had been prioritizing stronger relations with India, a key partner in its Indo-Pacific trade and diplomacy strategy.
Nijjar, a British Columbia Sikh leader part of a separatist movement and designated a terrorist by New Delhi, was fatally shot inside of his car in the parking lot of a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., on June 18.
“We’ve been clear we will not tolerate any form of foreign interference,” Joly told reporters.
Joly said she has raised the matter with key allies and plans to raise the issue with her G7 counterparts this evening in New York.
“Right now, we know we are in an international security crisis and one of the fundamental rules behind the world’s stability and security is the protection of each country’s sovereignty,” she said. “We see this possible breach of sovereignty as completely unacceptable.”
Trudeau has already raised the issue with President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Joly said.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the prime minister’s national security and intelligence adviser, Jody Thomas, and the head of Canada’s intelligence agency, have traveled several times in recent weeks to India to confront Indian intelligence with the allegations.
The news landed the same day that Canada’s recently announced commissioner overseeing an independent public inquiry into foreign interference started in her new role. She has until end of next year to produce a final report, according to the terms of the inquiry.