India’s Foreign Minister, S. Jaishankar, has expressed the country’s willingness to examine any “specific” information provided by Canada regarding the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.
This statement follows recent tensions between the two nations after Canada announced an investigation into “credible allegations” connecting the Indian state to the killing, which India strongly rejected as “absurd.” Jaishankar’s remarks were made during an event in New York ahead of his address at the UN General Assembly.
S. Jaishankar clarified that the Indian government had conveyed to Canada that extrajudicial killings were not part of India’s policy. He emphasized that if Canada possessed specific and relevant information regarding the murder, India was open to examining it. Despite this, India maintained that it had no involvement in the killing.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was fatally shot outside a temple in British Columbia in June. He had been designated a terrorist by India in 2020, an accusation vehemently denied by his supporters. The Indian government has consistently reacted strongly to Sikh separatist demands for Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland, particularly in Western countries.
The Khalistan movement, which advocates for a Sikh homeland, reached its peak in India during the 1980s and was marked by violent insurgency primarily centered in Punjab state. The movement was quelled through force, and it currently has limited resonance in India. However, it continues to have support among certain segments of the Sikh diaspora in countries such as Canada, Australia, and the UK.
S. Jaishankar also noted that India had provided Canada with substantial information concerning organized crime and leadership connected to secessionist groups operating from India. He emphasized the complexities of the situation, highlighting the intertwining of organized crime, violence, extremism, and secessionist forces. India has also issued numerous extradition requests related to this matter.
The tension between India and Canada escalated following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement that Canada’s intelligence agencies were investigating potential involvement of “agents of the government of India” in Nijjar’s murder. Subsequently, both countries expelled one diplomat from each other’s nations. India further suspended visa services for Canadians due to security concerns at its diplomatic missions in Canada.
Regarding intelligence sharing among the Five Eyes alliance (comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) related to Nijjar’s murder, S. Jaishankar stated that he was not part of this intelligence network or the FBI. He suggested that the question was directed to the wrong person.
The US expressed support for a thorough and equitable investigation into Canada’s allegations. The US State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, stated that Canada was committed to such an investigation and called on the Indian government to cooperate with it.