Last Updated: September 20, 2023, 09:12 IST
Washington D.C., United States of America (USA)
Weeks before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly made allegations about India’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Ottawa had sought the support of its closest allies, according to The Washington Post. Citing an anonymous Western official, the report disclosed that these requests were denied.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, aged 45, served as the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and was one of India’s most-wanted terrorists. He was fatally shot by two unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey, located in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, on June 18. According to the report, the killing of Canadian citizen Nijjar was raised privately by several senior officials of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing nations in the weeks before this month’s Group of 20 summit in New Delhi.
Months later, Canada and India have expelled a senior diplomat each after Trudeau this week alleged the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Nijjar. Canada worked “very closely” with the US on intelligence on the Khalistani leader’s killing in British Columbia earlier. “We’ve been working with the U.S. very closely, including on the public disclosure yesterday,” a senior Canadian government source said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has outrightly rejected claims made by Trudeau about India’s link as “absurd”. The MEA urged the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil.
On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada is not trying to provoke India by suggesting its agents were linked to the murder of a Khalistani terrorist but Ottawa wants New Delhi to address the issue adequately. “The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that, we are not looking to provoke or escalate,” the Canadian prime minister told reporters.
Members of the Five Eyes alliance which includes the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand called the accusations serious. The US said it was deeply concerned over Justin Trudeau’s claim about India’s role. “We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners. It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that his government backs a Canadian probe to determine whether India was involved in the killing of the Sikh leader. “We are in regular contact with our Canadian partners about serious allegations raised in the Canadian Parliament. Important that Canada’s investigation runs its course and the perpetrators brought to justice,” Cleverly wrote on social media platform X.
Australia said that it had conveyed its concerns on the developments to India at “senior levels’’. “Australia is deeply concerned by these allegations and notes ongoing investigations into this matter. Australia believes all countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law. We are closely engaged with partners on developments. We have conveyed our concerns at senior levels to India,” the foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
In a strong response, the MEA said 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. In the past, New Delhi on several occasions has called to Ottawa to crack down on anti-India elements attacking Indian diplomatic outposts and Hindu temples throughout the country.