Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asserted the existence of “credible allegations of a potential link” between Indian government agents and the assassination of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. However, India has rejected these claims as “absurd and motivated.” Following Trudeau’s statement in Canada’s Parliament, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat, identified as Pavan Kumar Rai, the head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Canada. These developments further strain already fragile bilateral relations between the two nations.

The external affairs ministry of India issued a statement denouncing Trudeau’s allegations, emphasizing India’s strong commitment to the rule of law and the rejection of any involvement in acts of violence in Canada. India expressed deep concern about the space given to illegal activities in Canada and urged the Canadian government to take prompt and effective legal action against anti-India elements operating from its soil.

Relations between India and Canada have been tense due to activities of pro-Khalistan elements on Canadian soil. These elements have organized rallies, protests, and a so-called referendum on the creation of Khalistan, targeting Indian diplomatic facilities and officials, and even eulogizing the assassins of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at a recent rally.

The strained bilateral ties have also impacted negotiations on a free trade agreement, with talks reportedly paused. In 2022, two-way trade in goods between the countries was valued at US$10.5 billion, with Canadian pension funds investing over US$55 billion in India.

Canada is home to a significant Indian diaspora, with nearly 1.6 million people of Indian origin and 700,000 non-resident Indians (NRIs). The Canadian House of Commons includes 19 MPs of Indian origin, and the New Democratic Party, led by Jagmeet Singh, has played a crucial role in supporting Trudeau’s minority government.

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