India told Canada it is not government policy to engage in such acts: Jaishankar on Nijjar killing

Canada has a “very permissive” environment as far as secessionist activity is concerned, says the External Affairs Minister; evades queries on Canadian evidence of India’s alleged involvement

September 27, 2023 04:23 am | Updated 07:50 pm IST - NEW YORK

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster at an event of Council for Relations, in New York on September 26, 2023. Videograb: X/@MEAIndia via PTI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster at an event of Council for Relations, in New York on September 26, 2023. Videograb: X/@MEAIndia via PTI

In the latest round of sparring between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia last June, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that the Indian government had told its Canadian counterpart that it was not its “policy“ to engage in such acts.

Mr. Jaishankar added that Canada had a “very permissive” environment as far as secessionist activity was concerned.

“We told the Canadians that this is not the Government of India’s policy,” Mr. Jaishankar said about the allegations of India’s involvement in Nijjar’s death. The Canadians were also told that if they had any specific information, the government “was open to looking at it”, the Minister added.

Also Read | U.S. calls for ‘full and fair investigation’ into Canada’s allegations against India

Mr. Jaishankar was speaking at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, moderated by Kenneth Juster, a former U.S. Ambassador to India.

Canada’s permissive environment

Seeking to provide context to the situation, Mr. Jaishankar said that Canada had seen significant amounts of “organised crime relating to secessionist forces”, that is, supporters of India-related secessionist movements, such as the Khalistani cause.

“We have actually been badgering the Canadians,” he said. “We have given them a lot of information about organised crime leadership, which operates out of Canada.” The Minister added that India had made several extradition requests of Canada. 

“Our concern is that it’s really been very permissive because of political reasons,” Mr. Jaishankar said, adding that India’s diplomats have been threatened and its consulates attacked. He noted that there has been interference in India’s politics, often justified on the grounds of concerns about democracy.  

Also Read | Hardeep Singh Nijjar killing | No specific information shared by Canada, says India

Intelligence sharing

Canada and India have exchanged diplomatic fire over the past week, requiring each other to downsize their missions and exchanging sharp words. Canadian government officials had, even as recently as Tuesday, said that they were concerned about foreign interference in Canada’s politics. 

Asked for a comment on the reported sharing of intelligence between Five Eyes countries on Nijjar’s killing, and reports that the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had warned certain persons about threats to their lives after the incident, Mr. Jaishankar said, “I’m not part of the Five Eyes.“ He added, “I’m certainly not part of the FBI.”

The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Intercepted communications

When asked if he was provided with any evidence by the Canadian government linking Indian government agents to Nijjar’s alleged killing, especially evidence of intercepted communications, Mr. Jaishankar did not clearly confirm or deny whether he had seen such documents. “Are you asking if the Canadians gave us documents?” he said. 

When asked again if the Canadians had given him or the Indian government a document regarding India’s intercepted diplomatic communications, he said, “I have said that if somebody gives us specific or relevant information, we’re prepared to look at it.”

Mr. Jaishankar was again pressed on whether he had received the evidence of purported intercepted communications. “If I had, would I not be looking at it?” he said.

He was pressed further for a “yes” or “no”, at which point Mr. Juster, the moderator, intervened.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.