Nijjar death probe ‘tainted’ by Canada’s claim of India link, says diplomat
Canada has alleged Indian involvement in the murder in a Vancouver suburb of Canadian citizen and Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India called a “terrorist.”
FILE PHOTO: A banner with the image of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar is seen at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple, site of his June 2023 killing, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada September 20, 2023. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
CANADA’S police probe into the June murder of a Sikh separatist in British Columbia has been damaged by a high-level official’s public statements, India’s high commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, told the Globe and Mail in an interview published last Saturday (4).
Canada has alleged Indian involvement in the murder in a Vancouver suburb of Canadian citizen and Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India called a “terrorist.” India denies the allegation.
“I would go a step further and say now the investigation has already been tainted,” Verma told the newspaper. “A direction has come from someone at a high level to say India or Indian agents are behind it.”
Verma did not name the highlevel official. On September 18, prime minister Justin Trudeau said: “Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India” and Nijjar’s death.
The case has sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries. Canada withdrew 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi in September asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence following the allegations.
Verma said India has not been shown concrete evidence by Canada or Canada’s allies that Indian agents were involved in Nijjar’s killing.
But he added that despite the strained relations, India would like to return to the negotiating table on a trade deal.
In September, Canada paused talks on a trade treaty with India, just three months after the two nations said they aimed to seal an initial agreement this year.