• Jaishankar says India ‘open to looking into specific information’ amid US pressure to cooperate in probe
• Tracking device found on Nijjar’s vehicle before his death
OTTAWA: As the US continued to press New Delhi to cooperate with a Canadian investigation into the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, India has said it is open to looking into any “specific” or “relevant” information on the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
But Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) — who was recently given a classified government briefing on the matter — has said he is convinced that the Modi government was involved in the killing on Canadian soil.
Meanwhile, fresh details have come to light in the June killing of Nijjar, with a close friend revealing that the Sikh activist had found a tracking device underneath his car before his death.
On Tuesday, when asked about the killing of Nijjar, US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said that transnational repression was a concern for Washington, wherever in the world it exists.
“We are obviously quite concerned about the situation in Canada. We’ve cooperated closely with our Canadian counterparts, and we have urged India to cooperate in that investigation and we’ll continue to do so,” he said.
Mr Miller told reporters Washington thought these allegations were so concerning that “there ought to be a full and fair investigation. Canada has said it’s committed to doing that, and we believe the Indian government should cooperate with it”.
Indian govt ‘not involved’
Meanwhile, in his address to the UN General Assembly, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar steered clear of the diplomatic standoff with Canada, but at the same time, made a pointed suggestion to UN member states, saying they should not allow “political convenience” to determine responses to terrorism, extremism and violence.
Later, at a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York, he claimed that Delhi had told Ottawa that the government of India was not involved in the killing, but if authorities had “something relevant”, India was “open to looking at it”.
He claimed his country had been “badgering the Canadians” about its claims that organised criminals are based there, a reference to separatists like Nijjar, adding that India had made “a large number of extradition requests.”
“The picture is not complete without the context,” he said, adding: “You also have to appreciate that in the last few years, Canada actually has seen a lot of organised crime… relating to… the secessionist forces”.
‘Attack by foreign govt’
The Toronto Star quoted a spokesperson for Jagmeet Singh as saying that Jody Thomas, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s national security and intelligence adviser, briefed the NDP leader on Sept. 21.
“I can confirm what the prime minister has shared publicly, that there is clear intelligence that Canada has that lays out the following case that a Canadian citizen was killed on Canadian soil and a foreign government was involved. That intelligence is something that I think is very credible,” Mr Singh said. “I can confirm that after receiving those briefings, I absolutely believe that.”
Mr Singh told reporters the classified government briefing “absolutely” assured him Trudeau had cited “credible” information that implicates the Modi government, saying that it was an “attack on our sovereignty by a foreign government”.
Asked if the information he saw should be shared publicly, Mr Singh said “not at all” because it could hinder the criminal investigation still underway.
Moninder Singh, a long-time, close friend of the slain Sikh activist, separately told CTV News Vancouver that a couple of weeks before his death, Nijjar had told him there was a tracking device on the bottom wheel well of his vehicle, which was found when the car was raised up at a mechanic shop.
Nijjar was killed in the parking lot of a gurdwara after an evening prayer on June 18. He had previously told friends and family he was concerned about his life.
On Tuesday, Mr Singh revealed details of security video captured from the gurdwara showing the suspects’ car, details not yet shared publically by police.
“It followed him through the parking lot, cut him off through the back exit where he was going to exit out and slowed down and led him to almost a stop to where shooters emerged to shoot him. It was very well coordinated,” said Mr Singh.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2023