Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canada shared with India “many weeks ago” evidence that it may have been behind the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil and wants New Delhi to commit constructively with Ottawa to establish the facts in the “very serious matter.” Trudeau, however, did not elaborate on the evidence that he says has been shared with India.
“Canada has shared the credible allegations that I talked about on Monday with India. We did that many weeks ago...We hope that they engage with us so that we can get to the bottom of this very serious matter. That’s important,” he said on Friday in a press conference with the visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“And what we are asking is for India, to commit constructively with Canada to establish the facts on this situation. We’re there to work with them. And we have been for weeks now,” Trudeau said in response to a question.
When asked about Canada sharing any information in the case with India, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi said: “No specific information has been shared by Canada on this case, either then or before or after. We have, you know, as we have said, or I think we have made very clear, we are willing to look at any specific information.” “We have conveyed this to the Canadian side and made it clear to them that we are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us. But so far we have not received any such specific information,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi.
Tensions flared between India and Canada early this week following Trudeau’s explosive allegations of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Nijjar on his country’s soil on June 18 in British Columbia.
India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
India angrily rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated” and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
Trudeau said Canada is working with its partners over the matter.
U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen also confirmed that “shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners” had informed Trudeau of the possible involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar.
This is the first admission by any US government official about the sharing of intelligence by Five Eyes partners with Canada even when there were multiple unofficial and non-official reports about the same, CTV News channel reported.
‘Five Eyes’ network is an intelligence alliance consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is both surveillance-based and signals intelligence (SIGINT).
“He (Cohen) made this comment while denying a Washington Post report alleging that weeks before Trudeau’s bombshell declaration, Ottawa asked its closest allies, including the US to publicly condemn the murder and that overture was rebuffed,” the CTV said.
“Very bluntly, I will say that — and you know me well enough — that I’m not in the habit of commenting on private diplomatic conversations,” Cohen was quoted as saying.
“Look, I will say this was a matter of shared intelligence information,” he said and added: “There was a lot of communication between Canada and the United States about this, and I think that’s as far as I’m comfortable going,” Cohen said.
Cohen’s comments came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is “deeply concerned” about the allegations raised by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau against India and Washington was “closely coordinating” with Ottawa on the issue and wants to see “accountability” in the case.
Speaking at a press conference in New York on Friday, Blinken said the US has engaged directly with the Indian government on the issue and the most productive thing would be the completion of this investigation.
“We have been consulting throughout very closely with our Canadian colleagues – and not just consulting, coordinating with them – on this issue. From our perspective, it is critical that the Canadian investigation proceed, and it would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investigation. We want to see accountability, and it’s important that the investigation run its course and lead to that result,” Blinken said.
India also said it has very “specific evidence” about criminal activities by individuals based on Canadian soil and it has been shared with the Canadian authorities on a regular basis but has not been acted upon.