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‘Canada is a rule-of-law country,’ Trudeau says of charges in B.C. Sikh activist’s killing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted Canada as a "rule-of-law country" in comments on Saturday about arrests made in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader, as he sought to reassure Sikh Canadians that persecution won't be tolerated.

Comments come day after 3 Indian men charged with murder in Hardeep Singh Nijjar's death

'Canada is a rule-of-law country,' PM says after charges in Sikh activist's killing

7 hours ago

Duration 1:32

'Every Canadian has the fundamental right to live safely and free from discrimination and threats of violence,' Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told attendees at the Sikh Foundation of Canada gala in Toronto on Saturday following Friday's arrest of three men who were charged with murder in the killing of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in B.C. last year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted Canada as a "rule-of-law country" in comments on Saturday about arrests made in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader, as he sought to reassure Sikh Canadians that persecution won't be tolerated.

Trudeau's comments came a day after three Indian men were arrested in Edmonton and charged with murder in the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Nijjar, 45, was shot dead in June outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. A few months later, Trudeau cited credible allegations of Indian government involvement, prompting a diplomatic crisis with New Delhi.

"This is important because Canada is a rule-of-law country with a strong and independent justice system, as well as a fundamental commitment to protecting all its citizens," Trudeau said Saturday at a Toronto gala celebrating Sikh heritage and culture.

"As the RCMP stated, the investigation remains ongoing, as does a separate and distinct investigation not limited to involvement of the three people arrested yesterday."

A person speaks at a lectern as other watch on behind the speaker.

The prime minister acknowledged that many in Canada's Sikh community are feeling unsafe following Nijjar's killing, adding: "Every Canadian has the fundamental right to live safely and free from discrimination and threats of violence in Canada."

Nijjar was a Canadian citizen campaigning for the creation of Khalistan, an independent Sikh homeland carved out of India. The presence of Sikh separatist groups in Canada has long frustrated New Delhi, which had labelled Nijjar a "terrorist."

Police in Canada said they had worked with U.S. law enforcement agencies, without giving additional details, and suggested more arrests might be coming.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner David Teboul, the force's commander for the Pacific region, said Friday that he wouldn't comment on the alleged links between the three men arrested and Indian officials but noted the force is "investigating connections to the government of India."

WATCH | Major arrests in Nijjar case:

What we learned from police about arrests in B.C. Sikh activist's killing

1 day ago

Duration 8:01

CBC's Evan Dyer breaks down what investigators revealed on Friday about the arrests of three men in connection with the killing of prominent Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C., last June.

Earlier on Saturday, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said his country will wait for police in Canada to share information on the three Indian men they arrested and charged.

Jaishankar said he had seen news of the arrests and that the suspects "apparently are Indians of some kind of gang background … we'll have to wait for the police to tell us."

"But, as I said, one of our concerns which we have been telling them is that, you know, they have allowed organized crime from India, specifically from Punjab, to operate in Canada," he said.

At an event on Saturday in the state of Odisha, Jaishankar criticized the Canadian government for allowing people with links to organized crime into the country. He also singled out Canada in a denunciation of several countries where he said pro-Khalistan voices held sway.

A man wearing a suit walks on the street.

"Our biggest problem right now is in Canada, because in Canada, actually today the party in power in Canada … [has] given these kind of extremism, separatism, advocates of violence a certain legitimacy in the name of free speech," Jaishankar said.

Sanjay Verma, India's high commissioner to Canada, said India hopes to get regular updates from Canadian authorities regarding the three arrested Indians.

"I understand that the arrests have been made as a result of investigations conducted by the relevant Canadian law enforcement agencies. This issue is internal to Canada and therefore we have no comments to offer in this regard," Verma said.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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