India must put the lid on US' Canada envoy's allegation on Nijjar's killing
The killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan Canadian of Indian descent, by alleged Indian agents has taken the India-Canada relations to their lowest ebb. As the situation unravelled, Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat and India reciprocated. The visa services to Canada in New Delhi have been suspended. Though Nijjar’s killing is the trigger for the current spat, the relationship between India and Canada has remained strained for quite some time now. Canada has a sizeable Indian population from Punjab and many of them are vocal Khalistan supporters. India has repeatedly asked Canada to rein in such rogue elements but the demand has fallen on deaf ears. This is an unfortunate situation as both countries have historically enjoyed friendly ties. Now, yet another episode has exacerbated the situation. The allegations made by the US Ambassador to Canada regarding India's involvement in Nijjar's killing have indeed harmed India’s image. While these allegations have not been substantiated, they have cast a shadow over India's international standing and strained its relations with Canada. Allegedly, the said report prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make in the Canadian Parliament his controversial accusation of a "potential" connection between the Indian Government and Nijjar's murder on June 18. India has vehemently rejected Trudeau's claims, labelling them "absurd" and "motivated".
However, recent allegations by US' Canada Ambassador David Cohen, quoting the Five Eyes network, have put India in a precarious position. The Five Eyes intelligence network, comprising the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, has been a cornerstone of global intelligence sharing. But David Cohen’s comment marks the first acknowledgement by a US Administration official of intelligence sharing with Canada within the Five Eyes alliance. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed deep concern over Prime Minister Trudeau's allegations against India and emphasised that the US is closely coordinating with Canada on the matter, aiming for accountability through a thorough investigation. It is indeed a serious situation for India. Our Government must counter it most vigorously as the onus now lies on India to prove its innocence. It must let the world know that though Nijjar --- officially designated as a terrorist by India in 2020 --- was a proclaimed offender who celebrated Beant Singh’s assassination and openly advocated armed struggle against India, our nation does not support extrajudicial killing and had asked the Canadian Government on several occasions to check anti-India activities on its soil but with no luck. While Trudeau desperately tries to resurrect his falling ratings by playing in the hands of Khalistan supporters in Canada who wield certain influence and power there, he must realise that it would be counterproductive in the long run as history is replete with examples where extremists have bitten the very hand that fed them.