Information on assassination of Sikh activist revealed to deter India

In September, Mr. Trudeau made the stunning revelation in the House of Commons that there was credible intelligence linking the Indian government to the June 18 shooting death of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside his gurdwara in Surrey, England. British Columbia.

British Columbia’s Sikh community was worried about what might happen next, Trudeau said Monday in an end-of-year interview with The Canadian Press. The Prime Minister said the message he delivered that day in the House of Commons was intended to provide an additional “level of deterrence” to ensure better security for Canadians.

These allegations have worsened already tense relations between the Liberal government and that of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who continues to deny any link to the assassination.

In the interview, Mr. Trudeau said his public statement followed weeks of “quiet diplomacy” that included raising the allegations with India at the highest levels.

This included a conversation Mr Trudeau had with Mr Modi during the G20 summit in New Delhi, where the two leaders met behind closed doors for 16 minutes.

“We knew the conversations would be difficult, but we also knew this was an important moment for India to demonstrate its leadership on the global stage with the G20,” Trudeau said.

“And we felt we could use this as a constructive opportunity to work together.” »

When asked whether these discussions were constructive, Mr. Trudeau responded bluntly: “No.”

Mr. Trudeau clarified that he decided to make this announcement on September 18 because he expected that the information would eventually be disclosed in the media. He wanted Canadians to know that the government had the situation under control.

The Globe and Mail broke the story shortly before Mr. Trudeau rose in the House.

“Too many Canadians were worried about being vulnerable,” Trudeau said in this week’s interview, adding that the Sikh community in British Columbia raised concerns shortly after the assassination of Mr. Nijjar.

“We felt that all the quiet diplomacy and all the measures we put in place – and we ensured that our security services were put in place to keep people in the community safe – required a level of deterrence additional, perhaps by publicly saying loud and clear that we know: or that we have credible reason to believe that the Indian government was behind this, he said. And therefore, it prevents them from continuing or considering doing something like this. »

Mr. Trudeau also noted that Canada had warned India that what it knew would eventually come to light, and that even if Ottawa had managed to keep things “at diplomatic level” before the G20 summit, it could not not control much after the event.

Mr. Trudeau also said he did not know whether it would come to light through leaks, the public inquiry into foreign interference or because things had reached a threshold “at which we had a duty to protect Canadians.” » by making it public.

Important diplomatic responses
Mr. Trudeau’s September 18 announcement was met with immediate calls for evidence, not only from India, but also from Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who told the Liberal leader to ” tell the truth “.

India responded by temporarily suspending its visa services to Canada and for Canadian citizens around the world. Canada also withdrew most of its diplomatic presence in India after New Delhi threatened to withdraw diplomatic immunity from these individuals and their families. Mr. Trudeau called the decision a violation of the Vienna Convention.

“They chose to attack us and undermine us with a level of disinformation in their media that was comical,” said Mr. Trudeau.

“[It] would have been more comical if it didn’t have real implications on people’s lives and on the relationship between our two countries, which is so deep in terms of people-to-people ties and people who depend on the flow of connections between us. »

India, which is the world’s most populous country, reacted differently when U.S. prosecutors alleged last month that an Indian government official led a plot to assassinate a prominent Sikh separatist leader living in New York. The US indictment pointed to a link to Mr Nijjar’s case.

Rather than outright denial, India agreed to create a “high-level” committee to examine the US issue.

A spokesperson for the Indian High Commission in Ottawa pointed to remarks made by the country’s foreign minister last week in parliament that the United States had provided evidence and Canada did not. hadn’t done.

“As far as the United States is concerned, some data has been shared with us as part of our security cooperation with the United States,” Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said last Thursday in response to a question from a member.

In the case of Canada, Mr. Jaishankar argued, “no specific evidence or information was provided to us.” He added: “The question of fair treatment of two countries, one of which provided data and the other not, does not arise.”

In the interview, Mr. Trudeau said Canada intended to reveal evidence in the same way the United States did when “we reach those points in the investigation.”

He noted that US authorities had earlier opened their investigation into an attempted murder.

“Canada investigates a murder and the issues are different, and our justice system has different processes,” he said. But it is happening. »

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