Nijjar case: Canada has not shared specific evidence or information, says India

Additionally, Russia alleges US is interfering in India's affairs and elections, cites US statements on the Pannun plot lacking evidence

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun (right) with slain Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar (photo: Indo-Canadian Voice)
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun (right) with slain Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar (photo: Indo-Canadian Voice)


India on Thursday, 9 May said Canada has informed it about the arrest of three Indian citizens in the case of killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar but it has not provided any "specific" evidence or information in the matter yet.

"Let me first make it clear that no specific or relevant evidence or information has been shared by the Canadian authorities till date," external affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said.

"You will therefore understand our view that the matter is being pre-judged," he said at his weekly media briefing.

Last week, Canadian authorities charged three Indian nationals with the murder of Nijjar. It is reported that they entered Canada on student visas.

"Obviously, there are political interests at work. We have long maintained that separatists, extremists and those advocating violence have been given political space in Canada," Jaiswal said.

"Our diplomats have been threatened with impunity and obstructed in their performance of duties," he said.

"We have also pointed to the Canadian authorities that figures associated with organized crime with links with India have been allowed entry and residency in Canada," he said.

Jaiswal said the two countries are currently engaged in discussions on issues such as the activities of pro-Khalistan elements and threats against Indian diplomats in Canada.

He said many of India's extradition requests are pending with Canada.

"We are having discussions at the diplomatic level on all these matters," he said.

India on Tuesday, 7 May hit out at Canada for providing "safe haven" and political space to criminal and "secessionist" elements, in a sharp reaction to pro-Khalistan elements displaying an effigy of the Indian prime minister in an offensive manner at a parade in Ontario's Malton area.

India also accused Canada of allowing "celebration and glorification" of violence and expressed concerns over the security of Indian diplomats in that country and that it expects Ottawa to ensure that they are able to carry out their responsibilities without fear.

India's strong reaction came two days after the 'Nagar Kirtan' parade in Malton displayed a "float" that contained an effigy of the Indian prime minister reportedly within a cage.

Meanwhile, Russia said that the US has not yet provided any reliable evidence of the involvement of Indian citizens in the murder plot of a Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in that country.

Russia also accused Washington of meddling in India's domestic affairs and the ongoing elections.

In November last year, US federal prosecutors charged Indian national Nikhil Gupta with working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Pannun, wanted in India on terror charges, holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada. He has been designated as a terrorist by the Union Home Ministry under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, when asked to respond to a report by the Washington Post claiming that India is trying to adopt the policies as Russia and Saudi Arabia, said: "According to the information we have, Washington has not yet provided any reliable evidence of the involvement of Indian citizens in the preparation of the murder of a certain GS Pannun. Speculation on this topic in the absence of evidence is unacceptable."

Washington lacks understanding of India's national mentality and history and continues to make "unfounded accusations" about religious freedoms in India, she said.

"Regular unfounded accusations by the United States against New Delhi ...we see that they groundlessly accuse not only India but also many other states...of violating religious freedoms are a reflection of the United States' misunderstanding of the national mentality, the historical context of the development of the Indian state and disrespect for India as a state," she said.

Describing the interference as a “colonial period mentality,” the Russian spokesperson accused the White House of complicating the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“The reason is that they try to unbalance the internal political situation in India in order to complicate the (ongoing) general parliamentary elections. That is part of meddling into India’s internal affairs,” RT news quoted her as saying.

"The Washington Post, it seems to me, should use the term "repressive regime" and everything you quoted in relation to Washington. It is difficult to imagine a more repressive regime than Washington, both in domestic and international affairs," she said.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, named a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer in connection with the alleged plot to kill Pannun on American soil last year.

India has strongly rejected the claims, saying that the report made "unwarranted and unsubstantiated" imputations on a serious matter and that an investigation into the case was underway.

Jaiswal said a high-level inquiry committee set up by New Delhi to look into inputs provided by the US on the alleged plot was still probing the case.

"There is an ongoing investigation of the high-level committee set up by the Government of India to look into the security concerns shared by the US government on networks of organised criminals, terrorists and others," he said.

"Speculative and irresponsible comments on it are not helpful," Jaiswal added.

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Published: 10 May 2024, 9:29 AM