Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday accused “agents of the Indian” government of being involved in the killing of a prominent Sikh community leader on Canadian soil in June.
Driving the news: Canadian security agencies have been investigating the “credible allegations of a potential link” in the shooting death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, Trudeau said in a speech in the House of Commons.
Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced later Monday that Canada had expelled an Indian diplomat who she described as “the head” of Indian intelligence in the country, per the New York Times.
The latest: India responded Tuesday by expelling a senior Canadian diplomat, asking them to leave “within the next five days.”
“The decision reflects Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” the statement said.
In a separate statement Tuesday, India’s foreign ministry called Trudeau’s claims “absurd and motivated.”
Details: Trudeau said he brought the matter directly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 summit last week in New Delhi.
“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau said.
India’s foreign ministry said the allegations were “completely rejected.”
The big picture: Nijjar, who was declared a wanted terrorist by India, advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state that would include parts of India’s Punjab state.
Nijar was shot near a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, in June by two masked assailants, the province’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said at the time. A third suspect drove them away from the scene in a silver 2008 Toyota Camry.
The two assailants have not been identified, and Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police did not say if the shooting was politically motivated.
Between the lines: Trudeau’s accusation will place further strain on an already tumultuous relationship between India and Canada, and place allies of both nations in an awkward position.