On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of potential involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was gunned down on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural centre in British Columbia.
India rejected the allegations on Tuesday as “absurd” and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move after Canada ordered the removal of one of India’s diplomats.
Speaking to the Canadian Parliament on Monday, Mr Trudeau said intelligence agencies had “credible” evidence that Indian government agents may have been involved in Mr Nijjar’s killing.
“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he told MPs.
“In the strongest possible terms I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter.”
In its statement announcing the expulsion, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said: “The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities.”
Mr Nijjar, who had been designated a terrorist by the Indian state of New Delhi, was part of a separatist movement seeking an autonomous state for Sikhs.
Indian authorities had announced a cash reward last year for information leading to his arrest, accusing him of involvement in an alleged attack on a Hindu priest in India.
India has repeatedly accused Canada of supporting the Sikh independence, or Khalistan, movement, which is banned in India, where it is seen as a national security threat.
In a statement earlier on Tuesday, India’s foreign ministry claims of involvement in the killing as “absurd and motivated."
“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said.
Mr Trudeau said he had personally raised the killing with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 meeting in New Delhi last week.
The Canadian government said the matter had also been raised with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The White House said it was “deeply concerned” about the accusations.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations referenced by Prime Minister Trudeau," White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said on Monday.
“We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice."