Canadian Sikhs protest against Indian govt over Hardeep Singh Nijjar murder.
Domestic intelligence agencies were actively investigating credible allegations.
There have been numerous demonstrations in Canada that have troubled India.
Canadian Sikhs organized small protests outside of India’s diplomatic missions, a week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested a potential link between New Delhi and the murder of a Sikh separatist advocate in British Columbia.
Trudeau had previously stated that domestic intelligence agencies were actively investigating credible allegations connecting New Delhi’s agents to the shooting of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, in June.
Approximately 100 protesters in Toronto burned an Indian flag and symbolically struck a cardboard cut-out of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a shoe. Another 200 protesters gathered outside the Vancouver consulate.
More than 100 people assembled in front of the Indian High Commissioner’s office, waving yellow flags bearing the word “Khalistan,” in Ottawa signifying their support for making India’s Punjab region an independent state for Sikhs.
Protester Reshma Singh Bolinas in Ottawa said, “We are really thankful to Justin Trudeau… We want no stone left unturned to get to the bottom of this cowardly act”.
She urged Canada to exert pressure on India to prevent the killing of innocent people in the future. Canada is home to approximately 770,000 Sikhs, the largest Sikh population outside of Punjab, their home state in India.
In recent years, there have been numerous demonstrations in Canada that have troubled India.
India dismissed Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd” and cautioned travelers about growing “anti-India activities” in Canada, though it did not provide evidence or specific details.
The allegations have placed Canada’s Sikh community in the spotlight. Sikhs make up just 2% of India’s 1.4 billion population, but they are a majority in Punjab, a state with 30 million residents where Sikhism originated 500 years ago.
Protester Kuljeet Singh in Toronto, a member of the group Sikhs for Justice, accused the Indian government of using “dirty tactics” and compromising Canada’s sovereignty.
Canada’s accusations led to a tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute, with both countries expelling diplomats and India suspending visas for Canadians.
Some protesters in Toronto and Ottawa called for the expulsion of the Indian High Commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, who stated that authorities had been informed of the protests and were providing security.
Nijjar, a plumber who left the north Indian state of Punjab 25 years ago and became a Canadian citizen, supported the creation of an independent Sikh homeland. India designated him a “terrorist” in July 2020.
According to unidentified sources, the Canadian government conducted a months-long investigation into the Sikh separatist leader, gathering both human and signals intelligence.
A senior Canadian government source informed that the United States collaborated closely with Canada on intelligence related to the potential involvement of Indian agents in the murder of a Canadian citizen in June.