World

Allegations over Sikh leader’s killing based on surveillance of Indian diplomats

The allegation of India’s involvement in the killing of a Sikh leader in Canada is based on surveillance of Indian diplomats in the country.

An unnamed official told the Associated Press on Thursday it is also based on intelligence provided by a major ally and added the communications involved Indian officials and diplomats in Canada.

They added some of the intelligence was provided by a member of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance – which includes the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, plus Canada.

The official did not say which ally provided the information and gave no details of what was contained in the communications or how they were obtained.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation first reported the intelligence.

It comes amid an escalating row over the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the Canadian province of British Columbia earlier this year.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar Pic: Sikh PA
Image:
Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Pic: Sikh PA

Ties between the two countries have plunged to their lowest point in years after Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, told parliament on Monday there are “credible allegations” India was involved in the killing of Mr Nijjar, a Sikh independence activist.

The claims have been dismissed by India as “absurd”.

The revelation came as India stopped issuing visas to Canadian citizens and told Canada to reduce its diplomatic staff.

Mr Nijjar, a 45-year-old Canadian citizen, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on 18 June.

He was one of the key members of the Khalistan movement – and was in the process of organising an unofficial referendum on its proposed independent Sikh state when he died.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Mr Trudeau acknowledged the complicated diplomatic situation.

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Canada killing ‘linked’ to India govt

He said the decision to share the allegations with Canadian politicians was not done lightly.

“There is no question that India is a country of growing importance and a country that we need to continue to work with,” he said.

“We are not looking to provoke or cause problems,” he said, “but we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians”.

Canada has yet to provide public evidence to back Mr Trudeau’s allegations and the country’s UN ambassador Bob Rae indicated that might not come soon.

“This is very early days,” Mr Rae said on Thursday, adding that while facts will emerge, they must “come out in the course of the pursuit of justice”.

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Canada’s high commission, meanwhile, said its diplomats in India have received threats on social media, adding it will temporarily adjust staff presence in the country, according to news agency ANI.

India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi blamed the visa suspension on safety issues.

“Security threats being faced by our high commission and consulates in Canada have disrupted their normal functioning,” he told reporters. He gave no details on the alleged threats.

Canada has also expelled an Indian diplomat, with India responding by ordering a similarly high-ranking Canadian diplomat to leave the country.

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