The bilateral relations between India and Canada have been under constant pressure since PM Justin Trudeau accused New Delhi of participation in the murder of a Sikh separatist in British Columbia.
Now, India’s High Commissioner to Canada, Sanjay Kumar Verma, said that the police probe into the murder has already ‘been damaged’ by what he called ‘a high-level Canadian official’s public statements’.
The investigation reportedly uncovered evidence of Indian involvement in the murder, in a Vancouver suburb, of Canadian citizen and Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar – called a ‘terrorist’ by Delhi. India strenuously denies the allegation.
“‘I would go a step further and say now the investigation has already been tainted’, Verma told the newspaper. ‘A direction has come from someone at a high level to say India or Indian agents are behind it’.
Verma did not name the high-level official. On Sept. 18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: ‘Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India’ and Nijjar’s death.
Trudeau’s statements have sparked a diplomatic row between the countries. Canada was forced to withdraw 41 diplomats from India after it demand Ottawa reduce its diplomatic presence.
The diplomat now urged Canada to release evidence backing up this allegation. And, while in the western press the ‘high-level Canadian official’ who would have ‘tainted’ the probe with his public statements is not named, in the Indian press it appears clear that it is Trudeau.
“‘There is no specific or relevant information provided in this case for us to assist them in the investigation’, Mr. Verma said. ‘Where is the evidence? Where is the conclusion of the investigation? I would go a step further and say now the investigation has already been tainted. A direction has come from someone at a high level to say India or Indian agents are behind it’, The Globe and Mail quoted him as saying.”
Besides denying India’s role in the killing, Verma also said any conversations between diplomats are ‘protected, and can’t be used as evidence in court’ or even publicly released.
“‘You are talking about illegal wiretaps and talking about evidence. Conversations between two diplomats are secure by all international law’, he said. ‘Show me how you captured these conversations. Show me that someone did not mimic the voice’.
On being asked if Ottawa had requested that India extradite anyone who might have been involved in the Nijjar slaying, Mr. Verma said, ‘Those conversations are between the two governments’.”
New Delhi has made no less than 26 requests to Ottawa, over the past six years, to extradite Sikh separatists (or terrorists) in Canada to India.
The High Commissioner has been given Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) security because of threats to him.
“‘I feel that is hate speech and an incitement to violence’, Mr. Verma said. He added, ‘I am concerned about my safety and security. I am concerned about the safety and security of my consul generals. God forbid if something happens’.”
A new poll in Canada suggests ‘seven in 10’ respondents want Canada to make public the criminal evidence that led Trudeau to accuse India of being behind the killing of Nijjar.