In a recent turn of events, India has accused Canada of prematurely tainting the investigation into the killing of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, alleging the involvement of Indian agents without providing concrete evidence. This accusation has escalated tensions between the two nations and raised questions about the reliability of diplomatic channels for such sensitive matters.
The Indian High Commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, expressed his concerns about the investigation in an interview with the Globe and Mail newspaper, demanding evidence and a conclusive investigation before drawing any conclusions. Verma stated, “Where is the evidence? Where is the conclusion of the investigation? I would go a step further and say now the investigation has already been tainted. A direction has come from someone at a high level to say India or Indian agents are behind it.”
The roots of this controversy can be traced back to a statement made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Parliament on September 18, in which he accused India of involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, in June. Trudeau’s statement further fueled the tensions between the two nations, as he claimed to have shared details of the allegations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India in September, urging India to cooperate in the investigation.
However, the Indian High Commissioner reiterated that India has not received any concrete evidence or relevant information from Canada or its allies regarding India’s alleged involvement in Nijjar’s killing. This lack of evidence has raised doubts about the legitimacy of the claims made by Canada.
The basis for Canada’s accusations seems to be diplomatic communications picked up by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and agencies of an unnamed member of the Five Eyes alliance. Verma emphasized the illegality of wiretapping conversations between diplomats, stating, “You are talking about illegal wiretaps and talking about evidence. Conversations between two diplomats are secure by all international law. Show me how you captured these conversations. Show me that someone did not mimic the voice.” He stressed that diplomatic conversations are protected under international law and cannot be used as evidence in court or publicly released.
Additionally, India has expressed its frustration with Canada over the extradition of individuals wanted in India. Verma revealed that 26 extradition requests have been made over the past five to six years, with little to no action taken by Canada.
The situation has become more concerning as Indian diplomats, including Sanjay Kumar Verma and two Indian Consuls General in Toronto and Ottawa, have received violent threats and posters targeting them from pro-Khalistani elements. Verma condemned these threats as hate speech and incitements to violence, expressing concerns about his and his colleagues’ safety and security.
While emphasizing the importance of maintaining business ties between the two countries, including the signing of a pending free trade agreement, Verma urged Canada to address the “core issue” of checking Khalistan extremists.