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In response to a recent report alleging that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was purportedly coerced to meet with Sikh activists during his 2018 trip to Punjab, India, Canada’s former Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, categorically dismissed the claims as “not accurate.” “One thing I can tell you is that that report is not accurate.

But I think we can all say there has been significant misinformation and disinformation by India on individuals in this country, including on myself and my family as well,” claimed Sajjan, now Canada’s Minister of Emergency Preparedness, in an interview with CPAC, a Canadian speciality television channel. A report published in a Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, claimed, “India refused to let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plane land in Punjab during a visit in 2018 unless he and his defence minister agreed to meet with a government official to air grievances about Sikh separatists in Canada, including Hardeep Singh Nijjar, according to a source with direct knowledge.”

“During the meeting, India’s minister for Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, handed Trudeau and then-defence minister Harjit Sajjan a dossier containing the names of about 10 Sikh activists whose activities the Indian government wanted to be curtailed, the source said,” the report also said. Minister Sajjan emphasised the prevalence of misinformation and disinformation concerning individuals within Canada, including himself and his family. “Yeah, I just want to echo what the Deputy Prime Minister had just stated that it’s extremely important for Canadians to have confidence in their independent police forces around Canada, and also the intelligence services,” Minister Sajjan further added.

Speaking on the issue, Minister Sajjan reiterated the importance of upholding democratic principles, emphasising that Canadians of all backgrounds have the right to peacefully express their viewpoints. “And one thing I can assure you is that our police forces are independent. And as a former police officer, I can definitely attest to that,” Minister Sajjan affirmed.

Meanwhile, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, in the same CPAC interview, underscored the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all Canadians, particularly members of the Sikh community. “It is so important that every single person in Canada feel absolutely safe and secure in Canada, that every single person in Canada enjoys a fundamental right in our democracy, which is the right to freely express yourself,” Deputy Prime Minister Freeland stated. “And I do also want to say, given some recent arrests, that Canadians who are members of the Sikh community may today be feeling not so safe and not so secure,” she added.

India and Canada are dealing with an unprecedented diplomatic crisis after the Canadian Prime Minister accused Indian government agents in 2023 of killing India-designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. However, India has dismissed the accusations as “absurd” and “motivated.” Then three men were taken into custody in Edmonton last week on Friday and are accused of first-degree murder and murderous conspiracy in connection with the June 2023 shooting of Nijjar, which severely damaged Canada’s relations with India.

On Tuesday, Members of the Sikh Community from British Columbia surrounded a Surrey courtroom as the three accused made their first court appearance by video, according to Globe and Mail. As the trio, dressed in orange jumpsuits, appeared before court, pro-Khalistani protesters chanted slogans and held placards, outside the Surrey provincial court, blaming India’s government for the killing Judge Delaram Jahani questioned the three suspects, Karan Brar, Karanpreet Singh, and Kamalpreet Singh, in brief. Through their attorneys, Brar and Karanpreet Singh decided to appear again on May 21.

The court, however, is yet to decide on a new date for Kamalpreet Singh, who has sought legal counsel, the Globe and Mail reported. Notably, Nijjar was shot and killed after he stepped out of a gurdwara in Surrey, a suburb in Vancouver, in June last year. A video clip of his killing reportedly surfaced in March this year, purportedly showing Nijjar being fatally shot by assailants in what was claimed to be ‘contract killing’. However, the Canadian police administration has yet to share any evidence linked to India’s alleged involvement in the killing of the Khalistani leader.