The relationship between India and Canada has faced significant strain since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly alleged the involvement of “Indian agents” in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. This assertion, made in September, raised questions and caused a rift between the two nations. Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma recently addressed these allegations and the need for credible evidence.
Mr. Verma emphasized that India has yet to receive substantial evidence from Canada or its allies supporting the claim that Indian agents were behind Nijjar’s June killing. “There is no specific or relevant information provided in this case for us to assist them in the investigation,” he stated. “Where is the evidence? Where is the conclusion of the investigation?” The envoy also expressed concerns about the integrity of the investigation, suggesting that external influences may be tainting the process.
Nijjar, the 45-year-old leader of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was killed outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. He was one of India’s most wanted terrorists, with a substantial cash reward on his head.
The situation has escalated since September, leading to India revoking the diplomatic immunity of 41 Canadian diplomats, requiring them to leave India by October 20. Canadian intelligence sources claim they received information from an undisclosed Five Eyes ally linking Indian operatives to Nijjar’s assassination.
Despite these allegations, Mr. Verma vehemently denied any Indian involvement in the killing and stressed that diplomatic conversations should remain privileged and cannot be used as evidence in court or released to the public. “You are talking about illegal wiretaps and talking about evidence. Conversations between two diplomats are secure by all international law,” he stated. “Show me how you captured these conversations. Show me that someone did not mimic the voice.”
Regarding extradition requests for suspects, Mr. Verma stated, “Those conversations are between the two governments.” However, he pointed out that India has made 26 extradition requests to Ottawa over the past five to six years, none of which have been processed.
Security Concerns and Threats to Indian Diplomats:
Mr. Verma revealed that he has been granted Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) security protection due to threats to his safety. Hate speech and incitement to violence have become concerning issues, with posters targeting him and Indian consuls general appearing online and in public places in Vancouver and Toronto. These posters label Indian diplomats as “enemies of Canada” and make accusations of operating a “terror house” or offer bounties for their assassinations.
Rebuilding Diplomatic Ties:
Despite the challenges, Mr. Verma conveyed India’s keenness to restart trade negotiations with Canada. He emphasized the importance of signing the trade deal promptly to benefit traders and investors from both nations. To mend diplomatic ties, Mr. Verma stressed the need for professional communication and dialogue, urging that the Nijjar death probe run its course.
Furthermore, he called upon Canada to prevent its soil from being used by individuals or groups attempting to challenge India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. India expects Canada to address Khalistan sympathizers within its borders to maintain strong bilateral relations.