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Khalistan separatist’s killing: US, Australia lend support to Canada call for India’s cooperation in probe

Calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations about a “potential link” between “agents of the Government of India” and the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar “very serious”, the US has lent support to Canada’s efforts to investigate the case and urged New Delhi to cooperate with the probe.

Australia noted that these were “concerning reports” and had raised the issue with the Indian government.

Statements by senior officials and ministers from the two countries — which are Canada’s partners in Five Eyes Alliance (an intelligence-sharing mechanism between US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) — are significant, as both are strategic partners of India as well. Their public statements have been measured so far, but India has not yet committed to cooperating in the investigation publicly.

Also Read | Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Khalistani separatist shot dead in Canada?

In an interview to CBS News, US National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said, “These allegations are serious and we know that the Canadians are investigating it. We certainly don’t want to get ahead of that investigation.”

Read | NIA announces cash rewards for information on BKI terroristskhalistan nijjar A photograph of Hardeep Singh Nijjar is seen on a banner outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey, British Columbia, on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. (Photo: AP)

“We urge India to cooperate in that investigation as well. This is the kind of an attack here that obviously we all want to know is handled in a transparent, thorough way. And, the Canadian people can get answers to this. So we’re going to stay in touch with our partners, both countries, and again we want to see the investigation be able to proceed unhindered and let the facts take it where it may,” said Kirby.

Explained | The Khalistan shadow on India-Canada ties, over the years

US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti also described Trudeau’s allegations as “troubling” and underlined the importance of following principles of international law, sovereignty and non-interference. “Any allegations like these should be troubling to anyone. But with an active criminal investigation, I hope we can make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” Garcetti said.

Nijjar A screenshot from NIA website showing Nijjar in the agency’s most wanted list.

“We will allow the space for that information and that investigation to occur before anybody leaps to any judgement,” he said, while speaking at an interactive session at the Ananta Centre in New Delhi. Australian Foreign minister Penny Wong, who is also in New York for the UNGA meetings, said, “These are concerning reports, and investigations are still underway. We are monitoring these developments closely with our partners, and will continue to do so.”

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When asked if Australia has raised these issues with India, she said, “We have. Australia has raised these issues with our Indian counterparts, as you would expect us to do.”

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had said that Canada has expressed its concerns about Nijjar’s death to security and intelligence agencies in India. He had said he had also raised the issue with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “I continue to ask with a great deal of firmness that the Government of India cooperate with Canada to shed light on this situation,” he said. However, New Delhi’s statements have been silent on the investigation and cooperation to the investigation so far.

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Nijjar was killed in June earlier this year and was the chief of the separatist organisation Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). India has denied all allegations of involvement in the killing.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

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