The Canadian government has reportedly been gathering intelligence against Indian diplomats for several months following the alleged assassination of a Khalistan supporter in June, according to a report from the CBC. The intelligence includes communications between Indian officials and diplomats on Canadian soil. Canadian security officials, including National Security and Intelligence Adviser Jody Thomas, visited India in August and earlier this month to seek cooperation on the investigation into the fatal shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C.
During the visit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the matter with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit in New Delhi. Trudeau assured the UN General Assembly that sharing these allegations was not done lightly and was done with utmost seriousness. The federal government has yet to release any evidence to substantiate their claims.
Although the Indian government publicly denied the allegations of an extrajudicial assassination on Canadian soil, they reportedly did not maintain this denial during closed-door conversations with Canadian officials. Instead, they pivoted to allegations against supporters of Khalistan separatism among Canada’s Sikh diaspora, suggesting they influenced the federal government on this matter. India’s External Affairs Ministry claimed that Canada has become a safe haven for terrorists, extremists, and organized crime.
India has accused Canada of sheltering Khalistanis, including Nijjar, whom they labeled a terrorist. Nijjar was accused of conspiring to kill a Hindu priest in Punjab and was labeled a terrorist in 2016 for his alleged involvement in a 2007 Punjab bombing. Interpol later issued a notice against Nijjar, accusing him of leading the Khalistan Terror Force, and a Times of India report claimed he trained sympathizers to conduct terror attacks in India. In 2016, Nijjar wrote to Trudeau as a ‘peaceful activist,’ urging him to dispel the Indian government’s allegations against him.
The growing feud between Canada and India has resulted in the expulsion of diplomats from both countries and India imposing a temporary bar on Canadian visitor visas. Trudeau refused to comment on whether Canada would retaliate, but government sources told the CBC that a decision had not been made yet. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation and Canada’s obligations to its Five Eyes intelligence partners.
An unnamed Five Eyes ally reportedly helped Canada compile evidence of Indian intelligence networks since the investigation began. Freeland emphasized that their focus was seeking justice for Nijjar’s family and did not speculate on whether Canada would pause India visitor visas during the investigation. She stated that this issue is about the safety of Canadians and the rule of law.
The U.S. government did not confirm or deny if it was the Five Eyes ally providing some of the signals intelligence. The investigation continues, and the Canadian government has yet to release any further information or evidence regarding their claims against Indian diplomats.