Blinken voices “deep concern”, says accountability is needed
The United States has ratcheted up pressure on India to cooperate with Canadian investigators probing the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US wanted to see “accountability” in the case and emphasized the importance of India working with Canadian authorities.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations that Prime Minister Trudeau has raised. It would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investigation,” said Blinken.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead outside his residence in Mississauga, Ontario on June 22nd. Canadian intelligence points to the involvement of Indian government agents in the killing, an allegation strongly denied by New Delhi.
Blinken’s remarks represent the strongest comments by a senior US official backing Canada’s position so far. Political observers see it as a signal that Washington does not want tensions between its allies over the issue.
Trudeau shares “credible intelligence” with India weeks ago
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed that Canada had conveyed the intelligence underlying its allegations to India a few weeks ago.
“Canada has shared the credible allegations that I talked about on Monday with India. We did that many weeks ago,” Trudeau told reporters Friday.
He reiterated his call for a cooperative probe, saying “We are there to work constructively with India. We hope that they engage with us so that we can get to the bottom of this very serious matter.”
According to sources, the intelligence in Canada’s possession includes communications intercepts of Indian officials in Canada as well as information from an unnamed Five Eyes intelligence partner.
However, Trudeau did not divulge specifics, maintaining the confidentiality of intelligence assets and methods. Observers see this as a sign of Ottawa’s confidence in the probe’s findings so far.
Calls grow for independent probe as domestic criticism mounts in India
With pressure increasing from Washington and Ottawa, voices in India are urging an impartial investigation to ascertain the facts.
Opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said probing the allegations should be New Delhi’s priority rather than “PR exercises”. Actress Gul Panag endorsed the call for an impartial probe to uncover the truth.
With the US now openly calling for cooperation and accountability, political observers say India’s options to stonewall the issue seem limited. Much may ride on how it responds to the expectations of its strategic allies in North America.
The US ratcheting up of pressure on India signals it wants the issue resolved quickly to prevent tensions between allies. While India denies involvement, calls are growing at home and abroad for an independent investigation to establish verifiable facts. How New Delhi responds going forward will impact its relationships with key partners Canada and the US.