Amid Hardeep Nijjar killing row, Canada defence minister speaks up on ties with India
Bill Blair said if allegations are proven true, there is a significant concern that Canada will have with respect to the violation of our sovereignty.
Canada's defence minister Bill Blair on Sunday termed the ties with India as “important” even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the Indian government's cooperation, after his explosive allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia.
While Blair didn't say whether the Canadian government’s Indo-Pacific strategy could be reassessed in light of escalated diplomatic tensions between the two nations, he suggested Canada will continue to pursue those partnerships while the investigation into allegations continues.
India has outrightly rejected Trudeau's 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. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
In an interview with Global News, the Canadian defence minister said, “We understand that this can be, and has proven to be, a challenging issue with respect to our relationship with India.”
“But at the same time, we have a responsibility to defend the law, defend our citizens, and at the same time make sure that we conduct a thorough investigation and get to the truth.”
If the allegations are proven true, Blair said “there is a very significant concern that Canada will have with respect to the violation of our sovereignty in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.”
Canada had been seeking deeper trade, defence and immigration ties with India before the “credible intelligence", as Trudeau called it, was first raised with Canadian officials, reported.
Chandra Arya slams his own government
Liberal party MP Chandra Arya on Sunday asserted that Hindu Canadians were fearful after threats issued by extremist elements and held his own party-led government responsible for inaction against Khalistan extremists.
Arya, who is a lawmaker from PM Justin Trudeau’s party, has repeatedly raised the issue of threats to Hindu Canadians and urged the community to stay calm and vigilant.
Arya's remarks came after Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and other extremist elements issued threats to the Hindu community in Canada, warning them to go back to India, amid the ongoing standoff between the two countries.
Speaking to CBC News, Chandra Arya said, “I am more worried about the consequence of what happened after the Prime Minister’s (Trudeau) statement. The concerns of the safety of Hindu Canadians here, Hindu Canadians are fearful”.
He also cited a popular column, which had stated “The risk of ethnic and sectarian bloodshed in Canada is real”
“What I am worried is that the bloodshed is going to be Hindu Canadian’s blood,” Arya added.
(With inputs from agencies)