NEW DELHI (NEWSnet/AP) — India has accused Canada of interfering in internal affairs, ramping up a confrontation between the two countries over tensions related to the killing of a Sikh activist.

The dispute intensified after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was investigating allegations that India was connected to the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Trudeau told Parliament that he brought up the slaying with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Group of 20 summit last week in New Delhi. He said he told Modi that any Indian government involvement would be unacceptable and that he asked for cooperation in the investigation.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said the head of Indian intelligence in Canada has been expelled as a consequence. “If proven true this would be a great violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other,” Joly said. “As a consequence, we have expelled a top Indian diplomat.”

India’s foreign ministry dismissed the allegation as “absurd and motivated,” and accused Canada of harboring “terrorists and extremists.”

Then on Tuesday, India took its step of expelling a senior Canadian diplomat.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is leading the homicide investigation into the death of Niijar, who was killed in June in British Columbia. He was wanted by Indian authorities, who had accused him of ties to terrorism for years and offered a cash reward for information leading to his arrest.

Trudeau had frosty encounters with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Group of 20 meeting in New Delhi, and a few days later Canada canceled a trade mission to India that was planned for the fall.

Canada has a Sikh population of more than 770,000, or about 2% of its total population.

The movement to establish an independent Sikh homeland, known as Khalistan, is banned in India where officials see it as a national security threat.

Nijjar had denied any ties to terrorism, and was working with an organization known as Sikhs For Justice to organize an unofficial Sikh diaspora referendum on independence from India.

Copyright 2023 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.