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14 Dec, 2023 11:21

Trudeau reveals he wanted to ‘put a chill’ on India

The Canadian PM said he publicly linked New Delhi to the killing of a Khalistan activist to protect the Sikh community
Trudeau reveals he wanted to ‘put a chill’ on India

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the safety of the Sikh community in his country and the need to “put a chill on India” were the main reasons why he publicly accused New Delhi of being linked to the assassination of a pro-Khalistan activist on Canadian soil.

In an address to Canada’s House of Commons on September 18, Trudeau had announced that his government was pursuing “credible allegations” of links connecting agents of the Indian government to the killing in June of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent leader in the movement for the creation of a Khalistan nation-state to be carved out of India.

The Indian government vehemently denied the allegations and sought evidence from Ottawa to prove the claims.

In a year-end interview with the Canadian Press news agency published this week, Trudeau claimed that his parliamentary message had been intended as an extra “level of deterrence” to keep Canadians safe.

He also said he had gone public with the allegations against New Delhi after weeks of “quiet diplomacy,” which included raising the matter with India at the highest levels.

“We felt that all the quiet diplomacy and all the measures that we put in... needed a further level of deterrence, perhaps of saying publicly and loudly that we know, or we have credible reasons to believe, that the Indian government was behind this,” Trudeau was cited as saying. “And therefore put a chill on them continuing or considering doing anything like this.”

Trudeau reportedly raised the matter with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit in New Delhi in September, but described the talks as not being “constructive.” He added in his interview with the Canadian Press that Ottawa intends to reveal evidence when it reaches “those points in the investigation.”

Trudeau further alleged that India had chosen to “attack” and “undermine” Canada “with a scale of misinformation and disinformation in [Indian] media that was comical.”

After the initial allegations in September, New Delhi suspended Visa services for Canadians and removed 41 Canadian diplomats from the country, citing a need for “parity.” Trudeau has condemned the move as a “violation” of the Vienna Convention.

The revelations from Ottawa come at a time when the US, Canada’s ally and a partner in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence sharing alliance, which has reportedly played a key role in collecting evidence against India, is pressing New Delhi to investigate a case involving a US-based Khalistan activist.

According to US prosecutors, Nijjar’s death in Canada appears to be linked to an alleged assassination attempt against Sikh secessionist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York, also in June. US officials claimed last week that an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, had been guided by New Delhi to kill the target. Insisting that such tactics are “contrary to government policy,” India has created its own high-level committee to probe “all the relevant aspects of the matter.”

Both Nijjar and Pannun, who heads the pro-Khalistan group ‘Sikhs for Justice’, are labeled as “terrorist” by India. Pannun last week reportedly made threats to attack the Indian parliament on December 13, the anniversary of the deadly 2001 attack in which nine people were killed and over a dozen injured.

A serious security breach did take place in the Indian parliament on Wednesday when two intruders stormed the lower house and sprayed yellow smoke inside the building. Simultaneously, outside the building, two demonstrators utilized gas canisters of a similar color during their protest. All four individuals were later arrested and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

After the disturbance, Pannun announced that he would provide 1 million rupees ($12,000) in legal assistance to the “rebels” involved in the security breach at the Lok Sabha, Indian media outlets reported.

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