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TORONTO: A Canadian Sikh group has called on its members to protest outside the Indian diplomatic missions of main Canadian cities on Monday, a week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the prospect of New Delhi’s involvement in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia.

Trudeau said last week Canada was pursuing “credible allegations” that Indian government agents may be linked to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a high Sikh population.

India swiftly denied any role in the killing and described the allegations as “absurd”. The accusations have sparked tensions between the two countries, with each nation expelling diplomats, and New Delhi suspending visas for Canadians.

Jatinder Singh Grewal, a director for Sikh for Justice in Canada, told Reuters on Sunday that his organization will lead the demonstrations outside the Indian embassies and consulates in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver to increase public awareness about Nijjar’s killing.

“We are asking Canada to expel the India ambassador,” Grewal said. Representatives for India’s diplomatic missions in Ottawa and Toronto were not immediately available for comment.

The Toronto Police Department said it was aware of the planned demonstrations on Monday but declined to disclose details of the security preparations or potential response to any violent situations that may arise during the protest.

Nijjar, who worked as a plumber, left the north Indian state of Punjab a quarter-century ago and became a Canadian citizen.

He has supported the formation of an independent Sikh homeland, called Khalistan, to be created out of Punjab. India designated Nijjar a “terrorist” in July 2020.

The Canadian government has amassed both human and signals intelligence in a months-long investigation into the Sikh separatist leader’s murder, CBC News reported last week, citing unidentified sources.

The report said the intelligence included communications of Indian officials present in Canada, adding that some of the information was provided by an unidentified ally in the Five Eyes alliance.

Canada is home to about 770,000 Sikhs – the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab – and the country has been the site of many demonstrations that have irked India.

Sikhs make up just 2% of India’s 1.4 billion population but they are a majority in Punjab, a state of 30 million where their religion was born 500 years ago.


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