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US secretary of state Antony Blinken reportedly asked Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to cooperate with Canada‘s investigation into the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar – a designated terrorist in India – was assassinated in Surrey on 18 June by two masked men. He has been linked to the secessionist Khalistan movement, which calls for a separate homeland for the Sikh religious community to be carved out of India’s Punjab state.
India vehemently denied what it called an “absurd” allegation, adding it was not New Delhi’s “policy” to be involved in assassination on foreign lands.
“Blinken raised the Canadian matter in his meeting, (and) urged the Indian government to cooperate with Canada’s investigation,” Reuters quoted a US official as saying, though a State Department statement made no mention of the issue.
Mr Trudeau has been reportedly mounting pressure on Canada’s “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing allies to push India into cooperating with the investigation.
The prime minister on Thursday said he was certain that Mr Blinken would broach the issue with India’s Jaishankar.
The US State Department’s formal statement on its website after Mr Blinken’s meeting with Mr Jaishankar made no mention of Nijjar’s murder or of Canada.
A readout from the State Department listed points like India’s G20 presidency, the creation of an India-Middle East-Europe corridor, defence, space and clean energy as topics of conversation between the two.
Mr Jaishankar on Tuesday said New Delhi has told Canada it was open to looking into any “specific” or “relevant” information it provides on the killing.
Mr Trudeau, who is yet to publicly share any evidence, said last week he shared the “credible allegations” with India “many weeks ago”.
Mr Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week the United States was “deeply concerned” about the allegations raised by Canada.
India has responded to the allegation by suspending visa services in all categories for Canadian nationals citing “security threats” to its consulates. Each country expelled one senior diplomat from the other in a tit-for-tat move.
A group of hackers called the “Indian Cyber Force” claimed responsibility for temporarily taking over the official website of the Canadian Armed Forces on Wednesday.
“That’s a very common thing that happens, unfortunately, often. But our cyberofficials and security officials acted very, very quickly,” defence minister Bill Blair told reporters.
With agency inputs