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India apprises US of ‘pro-Khalistan’ activities in Canada

New Delhi: Even as Washington DC once again nudged New Delhi to join Ottawa’s probe into the killing of a fugitive Khalistani Sikh terrorist, India on Friday cited extremist leader Gurpatwant Pannun’s recent threat video to underline its concerns over the activities of the secessionists in the North American country.

The diplomatic row between New Delhi and Ottawa over the June 18 killing of Khalistani Sikh terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar came up for discussion as India and the United States had the fifth round of 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi.

New Delhi’s relations with Ottawa hit a new low after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that his government’s agencies were probing “credible allegations” about India’s role in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the British Columbia province of the North American country on June 18.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hosted their US counterparts – Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin – for the 2+2 dialogue. Jaishankar and Singh also had separate bilateral meetings with Blinken and Austin respectively.

“On India-Canada, these are two of our closest friends and partners and, of course, we want to see them resolving any differences or disputes that they have,” Blinken said in New Delhi. “For that, it would entail Canada moving its investigation (into the killing of Nijjar) forward, and India working with Canada on it,” he added.

New Delhi’s envoy to Ottawa, Sanjay Kumar Verma, recently dismissed the probe launched by the agencies of the Government of Canada as ‘tainted’. He also stated that New Delhi had not received any “specific or relevant information” from Ottawa regarding the allegation about the role of the agents of the Government of India in the killing of Nijjar.

“Insofar as Canada is concerned, we have been having very consistent conversations with all our friends and partners. Our position on this matter has been enunciated and explained in full detail on multiple occasions,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told journalists after the India-US 2+2 dialogue on Friday. “The thrust of our conversations with our partners is no different today than it is at any other forum — it is essentially that we have core security concerns, a recent video surfaced which presents a very serious security concern for the Indian interests”.

He was referring to the extremist organisation ‘Sikhs for Justice’ leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun warned Sikhs against flying on Air India aircraft after November 19. He also called for a global boycott of the airline from Vancouver to London.

The Khalistani Sikh extremists had blown up Air India’s Kanishka aircraft when it was flying from Montreal to London on June 23, 1985. All the 307 passengers and 22 members of the crew onboard had been killed as the aircraft had disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean.

Pannun’s video prompted New Delhi to urge Ottawa to raise the security of the Air India personnel and aircraft operating from and to the cities in Canada – ostensibly given the history of the Khalistani Sikh extremists targeting innocent air passengers.

“We have made our position very, very clear to our friends and partners, they understand and appreciate that sense of where India comes from,” the foreign secretary said after the India-US 2+2 dialogue on Friday.

(Published 10 November 2023, 10:57 IST)

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