India’s Foreign Minister is open to examining Canada’s information on Nijjar’s murder.
Canada investigates alleged Indian government involvement in the murder.
India denies involvement, willing to investigate relevant accusations.
India’s Foreign Minister, S Jaishankar, has expressed willingness to examine any “specific” information provided by Canada regarding the killing of a Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
This statement comes in response to Canada’s recent announcement that it is looking into “credible allegations” connecting the Indian government to the murder.
India has strongly rejected these allegations as baseless. Jaishankar emphasized that the Indian government has communicated to Canada its readiness to investigate any “relevant” accusations related to the murder while maintaining its position that New Delhi had no involvement in the incident.
He made these remarks during an event in New York ahead of his upcoming address at the UN General Assembly scheduled for Tuesday.
“One, we told the Canadians that this [extrajudicial killings] is not the government of India’s policy,” he said. “Two, we told the Canadians saying that look, if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, you know, let us know – we are open to looking at it.”
In June, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was fatally shot outside a temple in British Columbia. It’s worth noting that India designated him as a terrorist in 2020, a claim vehemently denied by his supporters.
The Indian government has consistently reacted strongly to demands from Sikh separatists in Western nations advocating for Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland.
The Khalistan movement reached its peak in India during the 1980s, marked by a violent insurgency primarily centered in Punjab, a Sikh-majority state.
This insurgency was eventually suppressed through force and has lost much of its relevance in India today.
However, it still maintains popularity among certain segments of the Sikh diaspora in countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Furthermore, the minister added that India has provided Canada with substantial information concerning organized crime and leadership associated with secessionist groups operating from India.
“The picture is not complete without the context,” he said. “You also have to appreciate that in the last few years, Canada has seen a lot of organized crime relating to the secessionist forces, organized crime, violence, extremism, they’re all very deeply mixed up.”
“There are a large number of extradition requests. There are terrorist leaders, who have been identified,” Mr Jaishankar said.
The row burst into the open earlier this month after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s intelligence agencies were investigating whether “agents of the government of India” were involved in Nijjar’s murder.
Following Canada’s allegation, India issued a sharp statement saying that it had “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada” which it accused of “promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats”.
Subsequently, both nations took reciprocal actions by expelling one diplomat from each other’s country. India, last Thursday, additionally suspended visa services for Canadian nationals, citing security concerns at its diplomatic establishments within Canada.
During Tuesday’s event, Mr. Jaishankar was questioned regarding the “intelligence” exchanged within the context of the Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing consortium comprising the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, about the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
A US diplomat in Canada had last week confirmed that “there was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to make the statements that the prime minister made”.
Mr Jaishankar said, “I’m not part of The Five Eyes, I’m certainly not part of the FBI. So I think you’re asking the wrong person.”
The US, meanwhile, said it backed “a full and fair investigation” into Canada’s allegations.
“Canada has said it is committed to doing that, and we believe the Indian government should cooperate with it,” US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a press conference on Tuesday.
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