The US on Thursday said it supports Canada’s efforts to investigate allegations of India’s involvement in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Surrey.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, the 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, 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 on Monday alleged the involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing. New Delhi outrightly rejected the claims as “absurd” and “motivated” and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
“As soon as we heard from the Canadian Prime Minister publicly about the allegations, we went out publicly ourselves and expressed our deep concern about them, our support for a law enforcement process to get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House news conference.
“I’m not going to get into the substance of private diplomatic conversations, but we are in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts. We are consulting with them closely. We support the efforts that they are undertaking in this investigation and we have also been in touch with the Indian government as well,” he said in response to a question.
Sullivan “firmly” rejected the idea of a wedge between the US and Canada on this issue as indicated by a section of the media.
“We have deep concerns about the allegations and we would like to see this investigation carried forward and the perpetrators held to account. That is what the US has stood for from the moment this emerged in public and we will continue to stand for that until this fully plays its way out,” he said.
Refusing to respond to questions on the evidence of Canadian allegations, Sullivan said he is not going to speak to either intelligence or law enforcement matters from this podium.
“I will let that process play out. We are in, as I said before, continuous communication and consultation with the Canadian government and we will remain so as we go forward,” he said.
Sullivan also refused to respond to a question on a potential visit of President Joe Biden to India in January.
“I do not have anything to announce about travel by the president to India in January or at any other time today,” he said.
On Thursday, India asked Canada to come down hard on terrorists and anti-India elements operating from its soil and suspended visa services for Canadians, as escalating tensions between the two nations over the killing of Nijjar pushed their ties to an all-time low.
India also asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic staff in the country, arguing that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in the mutual diplomatic presence. The size of Canadian diplomatic staff in India is larger than what New Delhi has in Canada.