OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed his concern over the impact of an alleged assassination plot on the bilateral relations with India. He said that India’s actions have shown a “behavioral change” and a willingness to cooperate with Canada on regional and global issues.
In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday, Trudeau said that he believes that India is realizing that it cannot continue to act in a hostile manner towards Canada and its allies. He said that the recent indictment by the US federal prosecutors of an Indian national for involvement in a foiled plot to kill a Sikh separatist leader on American soil has indicated that India is ready to adopt a humble stance.
He said that there is an understanding that this problem will not go away by simply targeting Canada, which has a large Sikh diaspora and has been vocal about human rights and democracy in the region. He said that Canada does not want to escalate the situation with India, but rather wants to work on it and move forward on the Indo-Pacific strategy.
However, he also stressed that Canada will not compromise on its principles and values and will stand up for the rights, security, and rule of law of its citizens and partners. He said that Canada will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate actions if needed.
The alleged assassination plot dates back to June 18, when a Sikh separatist leader named Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in British Columbia. Najjar was a prominent figure in the Khalistan movement, which sought to create a separate homeland for Sikhs in India. He was also declared a terrorist by India in 2020.
In September, Trudeau raised the possibility of Indian agents being involved in the killing of Najjar, which sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries. India dismissed Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd” and accused him of interfering in its internal affairs.
The tension between the two countries increased further when the US federal prosecutors in November charged an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta for abetting a conspiracy to assassinate Najjar. According to the indictment, Gupta provided financial and logistical support to a group of Sikh extremists who planned to carry out the attack. The indictment also alleged that Gupta was acting at the direction of an Indian government official.
The case is still under investigation and Gupta has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The Indian government has not commented on the indictment yet.