Amid the India-Canada diplomatic row, India’s top Sikh religious body on Monday asked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to provide evidence of New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of a Sikh leader.
Everything Trudeau says cannot be easily rejected, but the truth against Indian agencies should be brought to light through a sincere approach by both countries that goes beyond politics, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) said in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead on June 18 in Surrey, Canada’s westernmost province of British Columbia, in front of a Sikh temple. So far, no arrests have been made.
However, the Canadian prime minister stated last Monday that there are "credible allegations" that the Indian government was behind Nijjar's shooting death.
Nijjar was a vocal supporter of independence for a Khalistani state in the Punjab region. The Indian government has repeatedly insisted that Nijjar was a terrorist – a label his supporters denied – and at the recent G-20 summit in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chided Trudeau for allowing Sikh separatist protests in Canada.
The Sikh community body headquartered in the Punjab’s capital of Amritsar, also condemned “hate propaganda against Sikhs and Punjab," by some local media outlets and demanded an immediate halt to it. Northwestern Punjab state in India is considered the heart of the Sikh community.
“Some people are using the current situation as a weapon to create divisions among communities, which should be stopped immediately,” the statement said, adding that “appropriate steps should be taken to end the growing mistrust among the Sikhs.”
The statement said the Sikh community respects all religions and does not hold enmity against anyone.
The Canadian premier's shocking accusation of India's involvement in Nijjar's murder heightened tensions to the point where both countries expelled each other's diplomats.
India, which angrily dismissed the allegation as "absurd," also stopped issuing visas to Canadian citizens due to "security threats."
Trudeau, however, said he was not looking to provoke India and urged officials in New Delhi to cooperate with an investigation into the killing.
The Khalistan movement for an independent Sikh state in India peaked in the 1980s. It was put down by force, and most of its leaders are now said to be in Canada, Australia, and the UK.