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Monday, July 15, 2024

Canada honors memory of Sikh activist designated as ‘terrorist’ by India

Ottowa has alleged that New Delhi was involved in the murder of Khalistan independence supporter, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, last year

The Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons on Tuesday honored Khalistan independence activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar with a moment of silence to mark the first anniversary of his death.

Nijjar, a prominent supporter of the movement to create a separate nation-state for the Sikh ethnoreligious group, was gunned down by unidentified assailants in a Vancouver suburb last year.

Read more: PIA air hostess detained in Canada for carrying passports of unrelated people

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linked the murder to Indian government “agents,” triggering a major diplomatic spat with New Delhi. India has repeatedly denied Ottawa’s claims and asked the country for proof to substantiate its accusations.

Notably, last month Canada arrested three Indian citizens in connection with the assassination.

In a separate development, Sikh activists on Tuesday commemorated the first anniversary of Nijjar’s death by staging a mock murder trial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside the Indian consulate in Vancouver, Canadian state broadcaster CBC reported. An effigy of Modi dressed in prison stripes was paraded down the street in a makeshift cage, and then a mock trail was held with “evidence” of Modi’s involvement in the killing being presented by a “prosecutor.” The street was cordoned off by police, the report noted.

Nijjar, who was working as a plumber, had been designated as a “terrorist” by the Indian government for his support for the Khalistan movement. New Delhi has repeatedly accused Canada, as well as other countries, including the US and the UK, of “providing safe harbor” for “terrorists” and proving them “political space” under the pretext of “freedom of speech.”

Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met on the sidelines of the G-7 meet in Italy last week for the first time since the former made his allegations. On Monday, Trudeau admitted that there is an alignment between India and Canada on various “big issues,” adding that he sees an “opportunity” to work with the government on issues including economic ties and national security.

Read more: PIA air hostess travels of Canada without a passport

Another controversy erupted earlier this month when a float in a Canadian parade depicted the 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Gandhi was killed days after she ordered a military operation at the Sikh sacred shrine, the Golden Temple, where it was believed that pro-Khalistan militants were hiding.