India-Canada crisis: London backs Ottawa inquiry

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told AFP on Tuesday that London was in favor of Ottawa investigating the killing of a Sikh leader of Canadian nationality in the west of the country, after Canada accused India of being involved.

• Also read: Killing of a Sikh on Canadian soil: A minister in the Trudeau government shaken

• Also read: The White House is “concerned” about Ottawa’s allegations

Canada and India are facing a major diplomatic crisis marked by mutual expulsions of diplomats after Ottawa on Monday pointed the finger at New Delhi, which is suspected of being behind the death of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in June to stick.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Parliament in Ottawa on Monday about “credible elements” against India, which New Delhi on Tuesday described as “completely absurd”.

Mr Cleverly, who represents his Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the UN General Assembly, told AFP that he discussed the matter with Mr Trudeau on Monday.

“It is particularly important that we let the Canadian authorities conduct their investigation,” emphasized the diplomatic chief, without speculating about his conclusions.

“We obviously have a very strong relationship with Canada and a very strong relationship with India,” argued the minister of the former colonial power, asking New Delhi for “all its cooperation” in the investigation.

India’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that it had ordered a senior Canadian diplomat to leave the country within five days in retaliation for Ottawa’s expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat just hours earlier.

New Delhi said Canada’s allegations were aimed at “diverting attention from Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have taken refuge in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Mr. Nijjar, an activist for the creation of a Sikh state called Khalistan, was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged “acts of terrorism” and conspiracy to commit murder.

He denied allegations, according to the World Organization of Sikhs of Canada, a nonprofit that claims to defend their interests.

The Indian government believes that the Trudeau government is turning a blind eye to the activities of radical Sikh nationalists who advocate the creation of an independent Sikh state in northern India.

The Indian state of Punjab, which is about 58% Sikh and 39% Hindu, was rocked by a violent separatist movement in the 1980s and early 1990s that claimed thousands of lives.

Tyrone Hodgson

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