Nijjar killing: Australia intel chief says no reason to dispute Trudeau’s claim
ASIO chief backs Trudeau's Indian involvement claim in Sikh separatist case during Five Eyes gathering in California
Australia's domestic intelligence chief has said he has "no reason to dispute" Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's claim of the Indian government's role in the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June this year.
The accusations, which came last month, kicked up a diplomatic row between India and Canada, with both nations expelling a diplomat each and New Delhi dismissing the claims as "absurd".
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director-general Mike Burgess told ABC News that "it is a serious allegation" and he would have "no reason to dispute what the Canadian government said in this matter".
"There's no doubt any allegation of any country being accused of carrying out an execution of a citizen in that country, it's a serious allegation, and something that we don't do and something that nations should not do," he said.
Burgess' comments came in California, where he was present for a public gathering of Five Eyes intelligence partners, which includes Australia, the US, UK, Canada, and New Zealand as its members.
The intelligence chief did not confirm whether the issue was being discussed at the gathering but a national security source told ABC that Burgess was briefed on the matter before last month's G20 summit in New Delhi.
Quoting Western-allied officials, the New York Times reported last month that US intelligence agencies provided information that led Canada to hold India responsible for Nijjar's killing.
After claiming that Indian agents played a role in the murder of its citizen Nijjar on Canadian soil, Trudeau has called on India to cooperate on the investigation, and said that he shared evidence about the killing with India before going public with his claims.
"Whether or not it will happen here, I wouldn't publicly speculate, I don't think that's appropriate," Burgess said when asked if Australia could be the next target for Indian agents.
"I can assure you that when we find governments interfering in our country, or planning to interfere in our country, we will deal with them effectively," he told ABC.
The Khalistan movement picked up in Australia beginning this year, with close to half-a-dozen Hindu temples being attacked in quick succession, leaving the Indian community, which forms three per cent of the country's population, enraged, scared and dismayed.
In the month of January alone, three Hindu temples in Melbourne were defaced with anti-India graffiti and pro-Bhindranwale slogans by presumed Khalistani supporters, and temple priests later received threatening calls to raise "Khalistan zindabad" slogans. In similar incidents, Hindu temples were also vandalised in Canada.
Indians were also attacked with sticks at Federation Square in Melbourne during a referendum call in January this year by the banned Khalistan outfit Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).
Sikhs number over 210,000 and account for 0.8 per cent of Australia's population as of 2021, forming the country's fifth-largest and fastest-growing religious group. A small but influential number of Sikhs support the idea of Khalistan, but politically, it has found little support.