New Delhi: The global spotlight is fixed on External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s forthcoming speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. It is widely anticipated that he will address the “credible allegations” made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding India’s alleged involvement in the killing of Hardeep Nijjar, a Khalistani terrorist trained in Pakistan, in June.
While New Delhi eagerly awaits concrete legal evidence from Canada linking India to the assassination of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Nijjar, it is evident that Trudeau’s Sikh political constituency may compel him to stand firm on the issue. Regardless of the quality of evidence or its admissibility in a court of law, it is expected that Trudeau will raise the specter of Indian involvement and attempt to attribute Nijjar’s murder to an individual of Indian origin.
It is worth noting that the Sikh vote holds significant sway in Canadian politics. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2015 visit to Canada, even requested Modi to visit a Gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia, recognizing the presence of his supporters within the Sikh community, despite its radicalized elements located just a couple of hours away from Vancouver.
Meanwhile, Canada has updated its travel advisory for India. South Block was duly informed well in advance about this decision, which was prompted by the circulation of certain videos targeting Canada on the internet. At a senior diplomatic level, New Delhi was informed about the advisory update, and it is cautioned against reading too much into it.
Given that Trudeau chose the Canadian Parliament as the forum to level unverified accusations against the Modi government, it is expected that Minister Jaishankar will respond in a manner befitting his diplomatic style during his UNGA address. Subsequently, he will travel to Washington, D.C. for bilateral discussions with the Biden Administration, where he will address not only the state of bilateral relations but also the validity and credibility of evidence provided to Canada by the Five Eyes Alliance regarding Nijjar’s killing.
However, as time elapses, the onus is on the Trudeau government to reveal the identity of Nijjar’s alleged contract killer, unless their strategy is to maintain tension with India and resurrect the issue with further unsubstantiated claims in the coming months.
India has consistently maintained its innocence, asserting that the Modi government played no role in the political assassination of Nijjar. While India supports the due legal process in Canada, it remains prepared to counter any baseless accusations. It falls upon Trudeau or his ally Jagmeet Singh to furnish compelling documented evidence against India and halt the decline in bilateral relations which was initiated by the Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister’s contentious remarks.