Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday (September 22) claimed that Ottawa had shared the “credible” allegations about the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar with New Delhi “many weeks ago”.
“In regards to India, Canada has shared the credible allegations that I talked about on Monday. With India, we did that many weeks ago. We are there to work constructively with India and we hope that they engage with us so that we can get to the bottom of this very serious matter,” Trudeau said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
On September 18, Trudeau alleged India’s role behind the killing of Khalistani terrorist Nijjar, which flared up tensions between the two country, with India rejecting the allegations calling them “absurd” and “motivated”.
The Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release that Trudeau made similar allegations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and they were “completely rejected”.
“We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of the Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” the MEA said.
“Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected,” it added.
Earlier on Thursday, Trudeau called upon the government of India to “take seriously” the matter and work with Canada to ensure accountability in the matter. He said that he had a “frank conversation” with PM Modi on the matter.
“I had a direct and frank conversation, with the Prime Minister (Modi), in which I shared my concerns in no uncertain terms...We call upon the government of India to take seriously this matter and to work with us to shed full transparency and ensure accountability and justice in this matter. We are a country of the rule of law. We are going to continue to do the work necessary to keep Canadians safe and to uphold our values and the international rules-based order. That's our focus right now,” Trudeau had said.
In a sign of tensions rising between the two countries following the allegations, Canada first expelled a senior Indian diplomat, resulting in a tit-for-tat move by New Delhi, expelling a senior Canadian diplomat.
On Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the allegations by Trudeau are “politically driven”.
"Yes, I do think there is a degree of prejudice here. They have made allegations and taken action against them. To us, it seems that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven," Bagchi said while addressing a weekly presser.
The MEA spokesperson further said no information has been shared by Canada regarding the killing of Nijjar.
"We are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us, but so far we have received no specific information from Canada," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday answering queries.
The Canadian Prime Minister, on the other hand, failed to present any evidence in his news conference in New York on Thursday to back his claims regarding India’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar, a wanted terrorist in India. Trudeau was repeatedly quizzed on the nature of the allegations but stuck to reiterating that there were "credible reasons" to believe that India was linked to the death of Nijjar.
"There are credible reasons to believe that agents of the Government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil. That is ...there is something of utmost foundational importance in a country's rule of law in a world where international rules-based order matters" said Trudeau.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) — a Sikh extremist organisation banned by India — and a “designated terrorist” was gunned down in Canada's Surrey in June.
(With ANI inputs)