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Nijjar killing timeline: Here's how the events unfolded that led to arrest of three Indians over killing of Sikh separatist?

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Canadian police on Friday charged three Indian nationals linked to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the province of British Columbia in June 2023. Police added that the probe also includes investigating connections to the Government of India.

The following is a timeline of important events that led to the arrests in a murder case that has strained relations between Canada and India.

On June 18, 2023, 45-year-old Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, which is a Vancouver suburb known for its large Sikh population. He was a Canadian citizen who was advocating for the establishment of a separate Sikh homeland to be formed from India.

On September 1, 2023, a Canadian trade official mentioned that Canada halted discussions regarding a proposed trade agreement with India. This decision was unexpected and occurred approximately three months after both nations expressed their intention to finalise an initial deal within the year.

On September 10, 2023, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed serious worries regarding Sikh separatist demonstrations in Canada to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a G20 summit in New Delhi.

Trudeau told parliament on Sept. 18, 2023 that Canada was “actively pursuing credible allegations’ linking Indian government agents to the killing of Nijjar.India dismissed Trudeau’s assertion as “absurd” on Sept. 19, 2023. Both countries expel a diplomat in retaliatory actions, where Canada expels India’s top intelligence officer while India expels the Canadian counterpart.On September 22, 2023, India suspended the issuance of new visas for Canadians and requests Ottawa to decrease its diplomatic representation in India. India start issuing visas again after a two-month period.

On October 29, 2023, tens of thousands of Sikhs gather in Surrey, British Columbia, at the gurdwara where Nijjar was killed to participate in an unofficial referendum regarding the establishment of an independent Sikh state.

On Nov 21, 2023: India’s anti-terror agency files a case against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh separatist, stating that he warned Air India passengers in video messages shared on social media that their lives were in danger.

On November 22, 2023, a senior official from the Biden administration stated that U.S. authorities had foiled a plot to assassinate Pannun within the United States and had cautioned India due to suspicions of the involvement of the government in New Delhi.

India’s High Commissioner on Feb. 5, 2024, said in an interview with Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper that India will not provide information to Canadian investigators over Nijjar’s murder until Canada shares evidence.

On April 30, 2024, the White House considers a Washington Post report serious. The report suggests that an officer from India’s intelligence service played a direct role in the killing of Nijjar and the failed attempt to kill Pannun in the United States.

India’s foreign ministry said the report contained “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations.”

With inputs from Reuters

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