Indian government may be behind killing of Canadian Sikh leader by masked gunmen, says Trudeau

The extraordinary accusation from the Canadian prime minister comes amid frosty relations between the two Commonwealth nations, as Ian Woods reports

The Indian government could be behind the murder of a Sikh activist in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said, adding that the allegations are "credible".

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead by masked gunmen, on June 18, outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, British Columbia.

India had labelled him a terrorist threat several years ago, claiming he was part of a separatist movement for Sikhism.Since the killing, Canada's intelligence service has been investigating the incident.

Mr Trudeau told Canadian parliament he confronted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the assassination at the G-20 summit in New Delhi last week.

He told Mr Modi that any Indian government involvement - a fellow Commonwealth nation - would be unacceptable and he asked for cooperation in the investigation, Mr Trudeau said.

“Over the past number of weeks 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,” the prime minister added in an address to parliament.

“Last week at the G-20 I brought them personally and directly to Prime Minister Modi in no uncertain terms.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Mr Trudeau added.

“In the strongest possible terms I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter."

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: AP

Mr Nijjar was a well known Sikh leader in British Columbia.

According to Canadian police, he was gunned down while he was in his truck by two masked men outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, BC, CNN reports.

His death sent shockwaves through Canada's Sikh community of more than 770,000 people and makes up about 2% of the country's population.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Canada’s national security advisor and the head of Canada’s spy service have travelled to India to confront their counterparts and Indian intelligence agencies with the allegations.

He called it an active homicide investigation led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The shooting has lead to tensions rising between the two nations, with Canada cancelling a trade mission to India that was planned for this autumn.

India's Opposition Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said if the allegations are true they represent ”an outrageous affront to our sovereignty.”

“But to hear the prime minister of Canada corroborate a potential link between a murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a foreign government is something I could never have imagined,” New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh said.

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