Canada may have provided the most definitive intelligence linking India to the assassination plot of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the Vancouver area on June 18, according to officials from Western allied nations, as reported by The New York Times.
While American spy agencies also provided information to Ottawa after the killing of Nijjar, the critical evidence, labelled as the “smoking gun,” came in the form of intercepted communications of Indian diplomats in Canada, associating India with the plot.
According to media reports, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has appealed to India to assist Canadian officials involved in the investigation.
Understandably, US officials have exercised watchfulness given the diplomatic ties the two nations forged in recent times.
A section of an article published in The New York Times reads: “US officials were reluctant to discuss the killing because although Washington wants to assist Canada, a close ally, it does not want to alienate India, a partner with which it is hoping to expand ties as a counterbalance to China’s rising influence in Asia.”
American officials informed their Canadian counterparts that they didn’t possess information about any conspiracy to kill Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, who had been supporting the independence of Khalistan.
They added that if they had a wind of the danger that awaited him, they would have shared it with Ottawa.
The New York Times further reported that the accusation has created diplomatic differences between Ottawa and New Delhi, leading each to fire the other’s intelligence officers and India to suspend visas for Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian officials haven’t made public the key details of the intelligence Canada has gathered about India. Canadian officials have said it is imperative not to compromise the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s investigation of the murder.
According to reports, Canadian authorities had warned Nijjar that his life was under threat. He was even advised to avoid visiting the temple.