Ally Questions Canada Charge On Hardeep Najjar Killing

'Where's Evidence': Ally Questions Canada Charge On Hardeep Nijjar Killing

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is visiting India

New Delhi:

Amid the diplomatic face-off between India and Canada over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of an India role in the killing of a Khalistan terrorist, a key ally of Ottawa has questioned the lack of evidence of New Delhi’s involvement.

Winston Peters, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, has told The Indian Express in an interview Canada has not shared any evidence that establishes its allegations.

At the center of the diplomatic row between India and Canada is the killing of Hardeep Singh Najjar (45), chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and one of India’s most-wanted terrorists. Najjar was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Canada’s British Columbia in June.

In September last year, shortly after he attended the G20 summit in India, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said in parliament that Canadian security agencies were “actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Najjar”. India has trashed the allegations, describing them as “absurd” and “motivated”. Bilateral relations between the countries have since nose-dived. In October, Canada withdrew 41 diplomats, citing an Indian threat to “unethically revoke” their diplomatic immunity. India had then rejected the idea that it had violated the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. “The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa,” it had said in a statement.

The US, an ally of both Canada and India, has said Washington DC has engaged with the Indian government on the issue. US Secretary of State Antony Blinked has said, “We have been consulting throughout very closely with our Canadian colleagues – and not just consulting, coordinating with them – on this issue. And from our perspective, it is critical that the Canadian investigation proceed, and it would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investigation.”

In fact, the US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen last year said in an interview that “shared intelligence” among partners of Five Eyes – an intelligence alliance of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – helped lead Canada to make the statements that the Prime Minister (Trudeau) made”.

Intelligence Media

Responding to questions on whether Canada had shared information on the Najjar case with its ‘Five Eyes’ allies, Mr. Peters said it was handled by the previous New Zealand government.

The 78-year-old, who is visiting India, became Deputy Prime Minister after Centre-Right parties came to power in New Zealand in November last year.

“I wasn’t here, it was handled by the previous government. But look, sometimes when you are hearing Five Eyes information, you are hearing it and saying nothing, it’s coming past you. You don’t know the value or the quality of it, but you are pleased to have it. You don’t know whether there is going to be substantial material value or nothing. But the very, very critical information that matters… This was mainly handled by the previous government.”

“As a trained lawyer, I look okay, so where’s the case? Where’s the evidence? Where’s the finding right here, right now? Well, there isn’t one,” he said.

This is the first time a Five Eyes partner has questioned Canada’s allegations.

During his India trip, Mr. Peters met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and also visited Gujarat.

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