In the midst of the ongoing diplomatic tensions between India and Canada, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addressed the issue of the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, emphasizing that India has not ruled out an investigation but awaits evidence from Canada.
The comments were made during a conversation with journalist Lionel Barber titled ‘How a Billion People See the World’ in London.
Jaishankar stated, “We feel that Canadian politics has given space to violent and extreme political opinions advocating separatism from India, including through violent means. These individuals have found accommodation in Canadian politics, enjoying the freedom to articulate their views.”
Highlighting concerns over Canada’s response to the issue, Jaishankar pointed out the lack of action when there was an attack on the high commission and diplomats faced intimidation in public on record. Referring to Canada’s history, he mentioned the bombing of an Air India flight and stressed the importance of responsible use of freedom of speech and expression in a democracy.
Regarding Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s public allegation about the involvement of ‘Indian agents’ in Nijjar’s murder, Jaishankar stated, “We told them, look, if you have a reason to make such an allegation, please share the evidence with us. We are not ruling out an investigation and looking at anything which they may have to offer. They haven’t done so.”
Responding to a question about whether Hardeep Singh Nijjar was considered a terrorist, Jaishankar pointed to Nijjar’s track record available on social media, leaving it to the judgment of the public. He noted that Nijjar had held public positions.
In the midst of the diplomatic row, over 40 Canadian diplomats were relocated from India following New Delhi’s concerns about a disparity in the number of diplomats. India accused Canada of interference in its internal affairs, escalating the tensions between the two nations.