PM Modi alongside US President Joe Biden at G20 meeting in 2023 | Photo courtesy: PIB
New Delhi/Washington/IBNS: The United States has urged India to “cooperate in the Canadian probe” into the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar ahead of the key meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, media reports said.
When asked by the reporters, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller reiterated Washington’s stand saying as quoted by The Indian Express, “I don’t want to preview the conversations he (Blinken) will have in that meeting (with Jaishankar), but as we’ve made clear, we’ve raised this; we have engaged with our Indian counterparts on this and encouraged them to cooperate with the Canadian investigation, and we continue to encourage them to cooperate.”
Jaishankar and Blinken are set to meet at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department on Thursday afternoon as per the US time.
India-Canada relationship deteriorates
India’s relationship with Canada deteriorated after Trudeau on September 18 alleged New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June in British Columbia.
Trudeau was quoted as saying by media, “As I said on Monday, there are credible reasons to believe that agents of the Government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil.”
He said, “There is something of utmost foundational importance in a country’s rule of law in a world where international rules-based order matters.”
PM Modi with Justin Trudeau during one of their earlier meetings/ courtesy: PIB
He asked the Indian government to ‘work’ with Canada to ensure full transparency and accountability in the matter.
India dismissed Ottawa’s allegations about Indian agents’ involvement in the murder of the Khalistani terrorist as “politically driven”.
MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said there was a “degree of prejudice” in Canada’s allegations. “They have made allegations and taken action on them. To us, it seems that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven.”
While New Delhi outrightly rejected Trudeau’s allegation, calling it “absurd” and “motivated”, the relations between the two countries have worsened with Canada and India expelling a senior diplomat each.
India has also issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals, particularly students, in Canada and also those contemplating travel to the North American country, asking them to exercise utmost caution.
Jaishankar indirectly jabs at Canada at the UN
Amid the Indo-Canadian diplomatic row and continued tension with China, India Tuesday said “political convenience” cannot be the basis for a response to terrorism or extremism, and called on the global community to respect the rules-based order and the UN Charter.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called on nations to not interfere in the internal affairs of others.
Jaishankar’s remarks have been interpreted as a jab at both Canada and China.
“… nor must we countenance that political convenience determines responses to terrorism, extremism and violence. Similarly, respect for territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs cannot be exercises in cherry-picking. When reality departs from the rhetoric, we must have the courage to call it out… without genuine solidarity, there can never be real trust,” he said.
“A fair, equitable and democratic order will surely emerge, once we all put our minds to it. And for a start, that means ensuring that rule makers do not subjugate rule takers. After all, rules will work only when they apply equally to all,” he said, taking a jibe at the Western world.
Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canada-based pro-Khalistan leader, was shot dead in Surrey city, British Columbia province in June.
He had been a leading figure in the Khalistan separatist movement and was closely associated with Sikhs for Justice (SFJ).
Nijjar was also serving as the president of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey.
Nijjar, a member of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was a ‘wanted terrorist’ for his involvement in various acts of violence and subversive activities.