Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says relations between India and Canada may have experienced a “change in tone” in the days since the release of a U.S. indictment alleging a conspiracy to kill Sikh activists on U.S. soil. He said he was confident.
The prime minister made the remarks in an end-of-year interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said on Sept. 18 that Prime Minister Trudeau had been involved in the shooting death of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 outside a temple in Surrey, British Columbia. When I publicly stated that I had reliable information linking the two, I was met with contempt and flat-out denial.
Last month, a U.S. indictment was released that alleges Indian government officials were the instigators and financiers of a murder plot in New York City. The indictment says U.S. authorities thwarted an assassination plot linked to India on its territory, including Niger ties and a plot to kill Canadians.
Prime Minister Trudeau said last week that he made the allegations public after weeks of fruitless silent diplomacy to “cool India” and deter Indian agents considering further attacks on Canadian territory. Ta.
The changing message of India
While Prime Minister Modi himself avoided conflict, Indian government officials, including External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, initially suggested the Canadian government was making things up and that there was no evidence to support the claims.
Its tone has softened somewhat as the Modi government sees other G7 countries, especially the United States, lining up behind Canada in this conflict.
The White House cited the fact that US President Joe Biden had raised the issue directly with Prime Minister Modi during bilateral talks at the G20 summit in New Delhi, a week before Trudeau made his explosive claims in the House of Commons. It leaked.
At the time, the public did not know that the United States was conducting its own investigation into the assassination plot of Gurpatwant Singh Panun, a Sikh activist and dual citizen of the United States and Canada.
The indictment alleges that Indian officials in New Delhi offered drug trafficker Nikhil Gupta $100,000 to hire a hitman to kill Panun in New York.
According to the indictment, U.S. authorities intercepted phone conversations and video conferences between Mr. Gupta and New Delhi officials in which they discussed the Panun conspiracy and at one point suggested that Mr. It is said that they were discussing whether to impose the charges.
The indictment alleges that within hours of Nijjar’s murder, an Indian government official texted Gupta a photo of the crime scene and told her he could turn himself in.
Prime Minister Trudeau says India is more open to ‘cooperation’
Prime Minister Trudeau said the U.S. indictment seemed to convince the Modi government to take a more level-headed approach.
“I think they’re starting to understand that they can’t force their way through this situation, and they’re becoming more open to working together in ways that maybe they weren’t as open to before,” he told Barton.
“There’s probably an understanding that mass attacks against Canada alone won’t solve this problem.”
The U.S. indictment is far more detailed than Canada’s claims, and more evidence has been made public, reflecting the fact that the U.S. criminal investigation is at a more advanced stage.
However, as far as India is concerned, the main difference may simply be that the US is a much more powerful country than Canada. And tensions with the US are likely to be more damaging to India and the Modi government.
The United States remains concerned about the alleged murder-for-hire plot, which again became a topic of conversation between the two countries when FBI Director Christopher Wray visited New Delhi last week.
On November 29, India’s Ministry of External Affairs announced that it had set up a high-level commission of inquiry to investigate the Panun incident. The spokesperson claimed that the committee started its work on November 18th.
Although the United States and Canada have focused their messages to India on the need for an investigation, officials in both countries privately believe that the Modi government was truly unaware of the alleged assassination, which had the characteristics of a state-sponsored operation. It says no. It doesn’t appear to be the work of a rogue agent.
Last weekend, the Biden administration held a secret meeting with the Samosa Caucus, which is made up of five prominent Indian-American congressmen. They came out after the meeting and issued a warning to the Indian government.
“We believe that the U.S.-India partnership has had a meaningful impact on the lives of the people of both countries,” the five Democratic senators said. “However, we are concerned that the conduct outlined in the indictment, if not properly addressed, could cause significant harm to this very important partnership.”
Prime Minister Trudeau gave a similar message to India in a year-end interview with CBC.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where we have to fight with India on this right now,” he said. “We want to work on trade deals, we want to move forward with our Indo-Pacific strategy, but standing up for people’s rights, people’s safety and the rule of law is fundamental to Canada. And that’s what we’re about.” I’ll do it. ”