US ‘deeply concerned’ over Trudeau’s charges, asks India to ‘cooperate’
But US expert terms Trudeau’s claim of a “potential link” between Indian govt agents and Nijjar’s death a “shameless and cynical action”, urges US to stay away
The US on Tuesday said it was “deeply concerned” about the allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on India’s involvement in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Surrey, and urged New Delhi to “cooperate” with Canberra in the investigation of the incident.
The row erupted over the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar (45), chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and one of India’s most-wanted terrorists who carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head. Nijjar was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey in the western Canadian province of British Columbia on June 18.
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau late on Monday (September 18) (India time) alleged the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing, a claim outright rejected by New Delhi as “absurd” and “motivated”.
After Trudeau’s remarks in Parliament, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly confirmed that she has ordered the expulsion of “a senior Indian diplomat”. In retaliation, the Ministry of External Affairs has asked a Canadian diplomat to leave India within the next five days.
“We are deeply concerned about the allegations referenced by PM Trudeau yesterday. We remain in regular contact with our Canadian partners,” a State Department spokesperson told PTI.
“It is critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice. We urge the Indian government to cooperate in the Canadian investigation and ensure that those responsible are held to account,” the spokesperson said in response to a question.
US expert’s view
However, a US expert has termed Trudeau’s claim of a “potential link” between Indian government agents and Nijjar’s killing a “shameless and cynical action” and urged the US not be part of it.
Participating in a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute think-tank, Michael Rubin, Senior Fellow at American Enterprise Institute, claimed Trudeau was playing into the hands of people who are looking at the Khalistani movement as a movement of ego and profit.
What is striking about Trudeau’s “shameless action and cynical action” is that while he’s making a statement now, the killing of Karima Baluch, which was carried out allegedly with Pakistani assistance, is a police matter and has not been taken to the Prime Minister’s office, Rubin said.
“So, the question then becomes why the discrepancy if not populist political posturing? ... That might help Justin Trudeau in the long term but that’s not what leadership is. We really need our politicians on both sides of the aisle here and in Canada, (there is a) need to be much more responsible because they’re playing with fire,” he said.
Rubin said it seems that some outside hands are trying to revive the Khalistan movement. “I don’t think it will work,” he said, adding that he would not want the US to give legitimacy to this sort of “cynical manoeuvres by outside powers”.
“It would be a mistake to suddenly see a separatist movement and argue that this is legitimate. And I worry less so with the United States but more so with what we see in Canada right now with Justin Trudeau, that same knee-jerk reaction playing into the hands of people who are looking at the Khalistani movement as a movement for ego, a movement for profit and for politics,” he said.
What US Sikhs think
Jassee Singh, founder and chairman of the Sikhs of America, said the Khalistani movement does not represent the voice of the majority of Sikhs in the US.
“Sikhs in India are not in favour of Khalistan. Today, Sikhs are in the Indian Army defending the nation, whether it’s against China or Pakistan,” he said.
“There are one million Sikhs living here (in the US) and only a few of them, a very, very small percentage shows up for protests demanding Khalistan,” he said.
Dinsha Mistree, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, said if Canada keeps pushing this narrative, then “we can see some big challenges there”. He also underlined the importance of intelligence sharing.
“For me, it is just very surprising. Again, the San Francisco consulate is not too far away. I don’t think any arrests have been made since this consulate was vandalised twice. If you don’t stop these smaller things, (then there is a) danger that they might snowball into bigger things,” he said.
In July, India’s consulate in San Francisco came under attack from Khalistan supporters, who tried to set the diplomatic facility on fire, in the second such act of violence within months.
(With agency inputs)