India’s High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma has said that Canada was yet to provide release evidence to support its allegations that agents of the Indian government were behind the killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
In a scathing attack on the Canadian government, Verma said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's public statements damaged the probe into the killing. He also rubbished Ottawa's claim that it shared credible allegations with New Delhi.
"There is no specific or relevant information provided in this case for us to assist them in the investigation," Verma told Toronto-based The Globe and Mail on Friday. "Where is the evidence? Where is the conclusion of the investigation? I would go a step further and say now the investigation has already been tainted. A direction has come from someone at a high level to say India or Indian agents are behind it."
Trudeau had made a public statement that there was evidence of a potential Indian link to the killing of Nijjar. India reacted sharply to Trudeau’s claims, calling them "absurd" and "politically driven". The allegations have created a rift with Canada, with New Delhi recently stripping diplomatic status off over 41 Canadians, who subsequently flew back to their country.
India has also informed Canada that it is willing to look into the case if Canada provides relevant information on the killing.
Verma also denied India played any role in the killing. Ottawa had stated that it had both human and signal intelligence implicating agents of India. This included conversations between Indian diplomats that were reportedly picked up by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
However, Verma denied India played any role in Nijjar's killing. He said that any conversations between diplomats are protected and can’t be used as evidence in court or publicly released. "You are talking about illegal wiretaps and talking about evidence. Conversations between two diplomats are secure by all international law," he said. "Show me how you captured these conversations. Show me that someone did not mimic the voice."
On whether Ottawa had requested that India extradite anyone who might have been involved in the Nijjar slaying, Verma said, "Those conversations are between the two governments."
The envoy added that New Delhi has made 26 requests to Ottawa over the past five or six years to extradite people in Canada to India. "We are still waiting for action," he said.
Verma also mentioned the threats to Indian diplomats in Canada, including posters calling to "avenge Nijjar's murder", stating that he feels these were "hate speech and an incitement to violence."
"I am concerned about my safety and security. I am concerned about the safety and security of my consul generals. God forbid if something happens," he added.
However, India would like to get back to the negotiating table on the trade deal, which was suspended recently by the Canadian government. "The deal should be signed as soon as possible so that traders and investors can take advantage of that," Verma told The Globe and Mail.
He also batted for "through professional communication and professional dialogue" to repair the relations between the two countries. Verma added that India expects Canada to rein in Khalistan supporters. "Let the investigation run its course," he said but urged Ottawa to address the core issue of Canadian soil being used by a group of Canadian citizens to dismember India.