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'Need to put a chill on India': Trudeau on why he went public with allegations on Nijjar's 'killing'

The Canadian PM also highlighted his conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, where he reportedly raised the Khalistan issue. The allegations made by Trudeau on September 18 were rejected by India's Ministry of External Affairs and soured bilateral ties.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Ottawa (Canada) Published on: December 13, 2023 18:02 IST
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Image Source : AP Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday once again raised the ongoing diplomatic dispute with New Delhi over the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, claiming that there was a need to "put a chill on India" behind his decision to go public with his explosive allegations, apart from lingering concerns that the information would be leaked through the media.

In a year-end interview with the Canadian Press, Trudeau also claimed that he noted safety concerns in the Sikh community and that his decision to announce 'India's role' in Nijjar's death was intended as an extra "level of deterrence" to keep Canadians safer, CTV News reported. 

"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. And therefore put a chill on them continuing or considering doing anything like this," he said.

Trudeau alleges misinformation by India

The Canadian PM also highlighted his conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, where he reportedly raised the Khalistan issue. "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, while bluntly declining that the talks were constructive.

The allegations made by Trudeau on September 18 were rejected by India's Ministry of External Affairs which had dubbed them 'absurd and motivated' and soured relations between New Delhi and Ottawa to the point the former briefly cancelled visa services for Canadian nationals.

Trudeau also alleged that India chose to attack and undermine Canada "with a scale of misinformation in their media that was comical" after he made the allegations. "(It) would have been more comical had it not had real implications for people's lives and relations between our two countries that are so deep in terms of people-to-people ties, and people depending on the flow of connections between us," he said.

He also reasoned that the announcement was made because the Canadian PM expected the information to be eventually leaked through the media and claimed to want Canadians to know that the government was "on top" of the situation. "Too many Canadians were worried that they were vulnerable," he said in the interview.

India-Canada dispute

The tensions between the countries over the Khalistan issue flared tremendously following the Khalistani attacks on the Indian Embassy in Canada in the aftermath of the arrest of extremist leader Amritpal Singh in India's Punjab. Later, the matter escalated fuelled at the next level following the murder of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar by unknown people outside a Gurudwara in June this year.

Later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that Indian agents involved in the killing of Nijjar poised the relations between the two nations to a new low. However, India outrightly rejected the claims and suggested Ottawa address the concerns raised by New Delhi related to the minority.

After the expulsion of diplomats from both countries, India briefly cancelled visa services for Canadian nationals and asked the Canadian embassy to minimise the diplomatic presence as it considered Ottawa had much staff whose roles were questionable.

In the case of the indictment of an Indian official in the United States regarding an alleged foiled assassination plot to kill another designated Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the question of "equitable treatment" for the US and Canada did not arise as Ottawa gave no evidence about its bombshell allegations, unlike Washington.

Responding to a question by CPI (M) MP John Brittas on reports of the US linking an Indian official to the alleged murder attempt of US-based Khalistani terrorist Pannun and India's fierce response to allegations by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Jaishankar asserted that a high-level enquiry committee is looking into the inputs shared by the US on the nexus between organised crime, trafficking and more.

"Insofar as the US is concerned, certain inputs were given to us as part of our security cooperation with the US. Those inputs were of concern to us because they related to the nexus of organised crime, trafficking and other matters. So, 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," said the EAM in Rajya Sabha.

ALSO READ | Canada: Three theatres playing Hindi movies 'attacked' by masked men with 'unknown substance'

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