Allegations not made lightly, says Canada’s Trudeau amid strain in ties
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his call for India to take allegations of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of Khalistani secessionist Hardeep Singh Nijjar seriously. India has dismissed the allegations as "absurd" and accused Canada of becoming a "safe haven" for terrorists. The growing diplomatic row has led to India temporarily suspending visa services for Canadians. Trudeau stated that there is no question over India's growing importance and that Canada is unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians and standing up for values. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is leading the investigation into Nijjar's killing.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said that his allegations about a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of Khalistani secessionist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 was “not done lightly” but with utmost seriousness”, doubling down on his call for India to take the matter seriously and work with them to shed “full transparency” and ensure accountability and justice.
India has summarily dismissed the allegations as “absurd”, and accused Canada of becoming a “safe haven” for terrorists and extremists amid a growing diplomatic row that saw India announcing a temporary suspension of visa services for Canadians on Thursday.
Speaking to the media in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Trudeau, however, said that there was no question over India’s growing importance. “India is a country of growing importance and a country that we need to continue to work with not just in a region but around the world and we are not looking to provoke or cause problems but we are unequivocal about the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about of the importance of protecting Canadians and standing up for values.”
The Canadian Prime Minister reiterated comments he made in the House of Commons on Monday and said that he had raised the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the two leaders met for a “pull-aside” on the margins of the G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month. ““I had a direct and frank conversation, with the Prime Minister, in which I shared my concerns in no uncertain terms,” he said.
He said that his government was “unequivocal” about the importance of protecting Canadians and standing up for values, which was why they had called upon the Indian government to work with Ottawa to “establish processes to uncover the truth of the matter and to allow justice and accountability to be served.”
Trudeau however did not proffer any further clarity on the “credible evidence” he had said was behind his Monday statement, and said that as a country with a “strong and independent justice system”, judicial processes must be allowed to unfold with the utmost integrity. “We’re standing up for the rules-based order, we’re standing up for the rule of law.”
The probe is being led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP, which has yet to release any details on the identity of Nijjar’s killers.“We are highlighting how unacceptable it would be for any country to be involved in the killing of a citizen on their home soil,” Trudeau said. Nijjar entered Canada illegally in 1997, was denied refugee status but granted citizenship in May 2007, and was designated a terrorist by India.
In a sharp riposte to Canada’s allegations, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday that Canada had shared no specifics in Nijjar’s killing with them thus far, but in contrast, India has made extradition requests or sought assistance in connection with 25 individuals allegedly involved in terrorist and secessionist activities in Canada. “We would want the Canadian government not to give them safe haven. They should take action there against those facing terrorism charges or send them here to face justice,” Arindam Bagchi, ministry spokesperson said.
Responding to concerns highlighted over the security of Indian citizens, Trudeau however said, “I can assure everyone that Canada is a safe country.”