India may expel Canadian official in reply to Trudeau govt action on Nijjar killing
Trudeau claimed that there were “credible allegations of a potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June
The Indian government is likely to expel a Canadian official in response to the Justin Trudeau government’s decision to throw out an Indian operative from Ottawa, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
India has already rejected Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s contention that there are “credible allegations of a potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, describing the claim as “absurd and motivated”.
Soon after Trudeau spoke on the matter in Canada’s Parliament, foreign minister Mélanie Joly announced the expulsion of a “top Indian diplomat”. Joly’s office identified the official as Pavan Kumar Rai, head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Canada, according to public broadcaster CBC.
The people cited above said on condition of anonymity that India is likely to expel an Indian official as a response. It is not unusual in international diplomacy for such expulsions by one country to be responded to by the other country with a tit-for-tat measure.
There was no official word on how India would respond to the expulsion of the intelligence operative, though the people said several options are being looked at and a formal announcement could be made shortly.
With the Indian Parliament holding a special session, external affairs minister S Jaishankar is expected to make an official statement in the House on the matter, the people said.
India-Canada relations have been at an all-time low for sometime now, largely because of New Delhi’s anger over Ottawa’s perceived indifference to the activities of pro-Khalistan elements operating from Canadian soil. These elements have incited violence against Indian diplomats, including putting the officials’ photos and other details on posters, and targeted Indian diplomatic facilities several times in recent years.
Canadian diplomats, including the high commissioner in New Delhi, have been summoned to the external affairs ministry for formal protests over the activities of Khalistani elements.
In June, the Indian government was particularly angered after a float at a pro-Khalistan rally in Toronto depicted the assassination of former premier Indira Gandhi in a gory manner and eulogised her killers.
Several efforts in recent years to reset India-Canada relations have run aground over the Canadian side’s persistent stance that the activities of pro-Khalistan elements are covered by the freedom of expression guaranteed to Canadian citizens.