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‘To put a chill on India’: Trudeau on decision to make Nijjar killing allegations public

Drishti Mail, New Delhi: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that his decision to make allegations in public about a possible Indian government link in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar was intended to “put a chill” on New Delhi from repeating a similar action, PTI reported quoting a Canadian news agency.

Relations between India and Canada have been strained after Trudeau in September claimed that there was evidence to suggest India’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar, designated as a terrorist by India, in Surrey this June. This was followed by the expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat in Canada.

India rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”, and in a tit-for-tat action, expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in Delhi.

In an interview with The Canadian Press news agency, Trudeau said he decided to make the announcement on September 18 because he expected that information would be eventually leaked through the media. He said the message he delivered in the House of Commons was intended as an “extra level of deterrence” to keep Canadians safer.

Trudeau claimed that his public statement came after weeks of “quiet diplomacy” that included raising the allegations with India at the highest levels.

“We knew it would be difficult conversations, but we also knew that this was an important moment for India to be demonstrating its leadership on the world stage with the G20,” he said.

“And we felt that we could use that as a constructive opportunity to work together.” “Too many Canadians were worried that they were vulnerable,” Trudeau told The Canadian Press.

“We felt that all the quiet diplomacy and all the measures that we put in — and ensured that our security services put in to keep people safe in the community — needed a further level of deterrence, perhaps of saying publicly and loudly that we know, or we have credible reasons to believe, that the Indian government was behind this,” he said. “And therefore put a chill on them continuing or considering doing anything like this.”

Trudeau further stated that Canada had warned India that what it knew would eventually come out and that while Ottawa had managed to keep things “on a diplomatic level” leading up to the G20 summit, it could not control much beyond that.

In the interview, Trudeau also said that Canada intends to reveal evidence very much in the fashion the US did when “we reach those points in the investigation.” But he noted that US authorities had begun their investigation into attempted murder earlier.

“Canada is investigating a murder and there are different stakes involved in that and our justice system has different processes,” he said, and added, “But that is unfolding.”

Last week, drawing a distinction between the allegations levelled by the US and Canada — of assassination plots against Khalistan separatists in their countries — External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told Rajya Sabha that there was no question of “equitable treatment” as the US had provided “inputs” to India, while Canada had not.

“Insofar as the US is concerned, certain inputs were given to us as part of our security cooperation with the United States. Those inputs were of concern to us because they related to the nexus of organised crime, trafficking and other matters. Because it has a bearing on our own national security, it was decided to institute an inquiry into the matter and an inquiry committee has been constituted. Insofar as Canada is concerned, no specific evidence or inputs were provided to us. So the question of equitable treatment to two countries, one of whom who has provided inputs and one of whom has not, does not arise,” Jaishankar said.

In an indictment filed by the US Department of Justice last month, an Indian citizen and an unnamed Indian official have been accused of being involved in a foiled plot to assassinate Khalistan separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.

(With PTI inputs)

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