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India should give serious consideration to the topic: Trudeau on US charges

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets ready for the May national elections in India, it doesn't appear that New Delhi will make any significant moves toward reconciliation anytime soon.

Following the U.S. revelation that it had stopped an effort to assassinate a Sikh separatist on American territory, Canada pushed India to help in an inquiry regarding the death of a Sikh separatist in British Columbia on Wednesday.

The US Department of Justice accused Nikhil Gupta, earlier on Wednesday for conspiring to kill a resident of New York City “who advocated for a Sikh sovereign state in northern India” with the help of an government employee. The “government employee” and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an terrorist labeled as a resident of New York City, were not named in the letter. It stated that Nikhil Gupta was called by the government official to kill Pannu. Nikhil Gupta was detained by Czech authorities in June of this year after he allegedly contacted an undercover police officer to carry out the murder.

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The accusations from the United States coincide with the revelation two months ago by Canada that “credible” allegations had been made connecting agents to the June murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in a Vancouver suburb. It is an accusation that India has denied.

“India needs to take this seriously”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa, “The news coming out of the United States further underscores what we’ve been talking about from the very beginning, which is that India needs to take this seriously.”

“The Indian government needs to work with us to ensure that we’re getting to the bottom of this,” he stated.

The Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in Canada, was also referenced in the letter. Justin Trudeau claimed that spies were responsible for the murder; India denied this accusation and requested proof. As a result, India and Canada had a diplomatic spat that began to somewhat improve when started providing visa services again in Canada. It made it apparent that Canada has not shown any proof for their allegation, and that country is prepared to assist with the investigation should proof be offered.

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In response to the news of the aborted attempt to murder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the MEA previously established a high-level inquiry team to investigate security-related issues brought up by the US. The MEA has not yet responded to the US charges.

On Wednesday, Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly made remarks on the India-Canada relationship and encouraged to cooperate more with the ongoing murder probe. “Clearly we expect more cooperation on their part and more engagement on their part,” the minister stated. No one has been charged in Canada in relation to Nijjar’s murder as of yet.

In conclusion, the claims risk the efforts made by the US and Canada to strengthen their relations with India in order to counterbalance Chinese dominance in the Indo-Pacific area.

As Canada’s murder investigation continues and Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets ready for the May national elections in India, it doesn’t appear that either New Delhi or Ottawa will make any significant moves toward reconciliation anytime soon.

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Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

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