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Diplomatic rift opens after Trudeau makes murder allegation

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Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a Canadian citizen murdered in June. On Monday, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said India was behind his death.
Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar

Canada’s Prime Minister has accused the Indian Government of organising the murder of a Canadian citizen.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a well-known Sikh leader in Canada, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Vancouver in June.

On Monday, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed India was involved. The Indian Government has rejected the allegation.

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?

Nijjar was from the Punjab region, a mostly Sikh area split between northern India and Pakistan.

He moved to Canada as a 20-year-old in 1997 and became a prominent religious leader.

Sikhism is a religion that originated around 1500 in the Punjab region. Today, there are at least 25 million Sikh followers around the world.

Where is the Punjab region?

The state of Punjab was formally created after India gained independence from the UK in 1947.

In the decades since, several Sikhs (including Nijjar) have campaigned for a new sovereign state in the Punjab region, separate from India. Successive Indian governments have opposed this idea, leading to ongoing violence and conflict.

Nijjar’s murder triggered protests by global Sikh communities, who claimed India was behind his death.

Nijjar murder accusation

This week in Parliament, Justin Trudeau claimed Canadian intelligence had “credible” evidence linking the Indian Government to Nijjar’s murder.

Trudeau also shared this information with the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, while in New Delhi for the G20 Summit earlier this month.

The Canadian Government confirmed on Tuesday that a senior Indian diplomat had been stood down in
light of the accusation.

India’s response to Nijjar accusation

The Indian Government called the claims “absurd” and said Prime Minister Modi rejected the allegations put to him by Trudeau at the G20 Summit.

The Indian Government is instead calling on Canada to pursue legal action against “all anti-India elements” in the country, and accused the Canadian Sikh community of continuing to “threaten” India’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

What happens next?

Trudeau’s accusations have not yet been proven, as investigations into the matter continue.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said the allegations constitute a “grave violation” of Canada’s sovereignty. India has been asked to fully cooperate with further enquiries.

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