OTTAWA, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Canada worked “very closely” with the United States to obtain information that Indian agents were potentially involved in the killing of a Sikh leader in British Columbia earlier this year , a senior Canadian government source said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that domestic intelligence agencies are actively pursuing credible allegations linking New Delhi agents to the shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, in June.
“We have worked closely with the United States, including on the public disclosure yesterday,” the source said. Evidence in Canada’s possession will be shared “in due course,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information.
Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday that the case had far-reaching implications for international law and urged the Indian government to take the matter seriously and help Canada fully investigate the matter.
India quickly dismissed Trudeau’s claim as absurd and said it was expelling a Canadian diplomat, a tit-for-tat move after Canada expelled the top intelligence official on Monday Indians.
The dispute is a further blow to diplomatic relations that have been deteriorating for years, with New Delhi unhappy with Sikh separatist activities in Canada.
“I would expect normal discussions between the two governments to be difficult while this issue is being resolved,” said Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau and professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa.
U.S. authorities said Tuesday they supported the Canadian investigation.
“We have been in close contact with our Canadian colleagues on this matter. We are very concerned about the allegations. We believe it is important that a full and open investigation be conducted, and we urge the Indian government to cooperate in this investigation,” he said. said a senior State Department official.
Some, including Canada’s conservative opposition leader Pierre Poilievre, are urging Trudeau to show the evidence the government has on hand.
Jesse Singh, founder and president of the community group Sikhs of America, said at an event hosted by the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington that Trudeau provided no evidence.
“It’s just something that he called a credible allegation, without any evidence. And I think we’ll have to wait and see if there’s any evidence and I think other decisions can be made,” added Singh. .
The row has already chilled trade talks, which have been suspended, and Canada last week canceled a major trade mission planned for October.
A second Canadian source familiar with the matter said the pause in trade negotiations and the delay in the trade mission were due to concerns surrounding the Canadian’s killing.
New Delhi, which has urged Ottawa to act against anti-India elements, has long been unhappy with Sikh separatist activities in Canada.
Nijjar supported the creation of a Sikh homeland in the form of a so-called independent state of Khalistan, in the northern Indian state of Punjab, the birthplace of the Sikh religion, bordering Pakistan. India designated him a “terrorist” in 2020.
Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis
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