New Delhi, September 23
The US has called on India to cooperate in a Canadian probe after its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had shared with New Delhi "credible allegations" about the involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Sikh terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Indian officials have also said they are engaged with their partners but Canada has not provided any specific evidence so far.
Shortly after Trudeau spoke to the media in Ottawa, Washington escalated the Nijjar controversy to the level of Secretary of State Antony Blinken who acknowledged that the US has been consulting and coordinating very closely with the Canadians as it was worried about the implications of a transnational crime. In a visit to the New York Times on Thursday, Trudeau had made a similar statement and added that “we're not looking to provoke or cause problems”.
Blinken said it was “important for India to work with the Canadians on this investigation”, closely reiterating Trudeau who wanted India to “engage with us so that we can get to the bottom of this very serious matter. That's important”.
In Canada, US Ambassador David Cohen said there was “shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners” that helped “lead Canada to making the statements that the Prime Minister made”.
Though Blinken refused to comment on reports that US President Joe Biden had broached the Nijjar killing with PM Narendra Modi, he said Washington had been engaged directly with the Indian Government. “I think the most productive thing that can happen now is to see this investigation move forward, be completed. And we would hope that our Indian friends would cooperate with that investigation as well,” he reiterated.
Blinken said, “We are extremely vigilant about any instances of alleged transnational repression, something we take very, very seriously.” Trudeau also framed the issue as a broader battle to defend the international rules-based order.
Later this week, Blinken will meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Washington where this subject is expected to be discussed in depth.
India says it has been engaging with its partners, including the US and Canada, to explain its stand. India has rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated". New Delhi expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in retaliation for Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case. It has also suspended the issuance of visas in Canada, issued a harsh travel advisory warning of “politically condoned crimes” in Canada and is weighing the possibility of asking Ottawa to slash its diplomatic strength in order to achieve parity in rank and numbers with the Indian diplomatic complement posted there.
Tensions flared between India and Canada on Monday after Trudeau made allegations of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Nijjar in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
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