Following allegations from the United States that it had thwarted an assassination attempt against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the leader of Sikhs for Justice, a New York-based group advocating for an independent Sikh state within India, Canada has asked increased collaboration from India in its investigation into the death of the Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was gunned down in Surrey, British Columbia.
The US’s allegations came nearly two months after Canada acknowledged reliable accusations connecting an Indian group to the murder of Nijjar in a Vancouver suburb in June, an allegation India has denied.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “The news coming out of the United States further underscores what we’ve been talking about from the beginning, which is that India needs to take this seriously.”
The US Justice Department said it was going to book Nikhil Gupta (52), previously an Indian government employee, for conspiring to kill Pannun by engaging a hit man.
“The Indian government needs to work with us to ensure that we’re getting to the bottom of this,” Trudeau said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly also urged India to be more transparent in the investigation.
These accusations make it more difficult for the US and Canada to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific by fortifying their ties with India. It seems doubtful that New Delhi and Ottawa will be able to mend their differences, given the ongoing murder investigation in Canada and the preparations of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the national elections in May.