Trudeau’s murder claim risks upending US courtship of India

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Mr Nijjar, 45 at the time of his death and the temple’s president.

He was outspoken in both his advocacy for the creation of an independent Sikh state called Khalistan in north-west India, and his criticism of human rights violations in the South Asian country.

“The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness,” Mr Trudeau said on Tuesday morning.

Canada is going to “remain calm, we’re going to remain grounded in our democratic principles and values, and we’re going to follow the evidence and make sure that the work is done to hold people to account”, he added. 

India has denied any involvement and blasted Canada for failing to take action against Sikh separatism.

India had declared Mr Nijjar a wanted terrorist and accused him of conspiring to murder a Hindu priest, among other allegations. 

Without a resolution, the dispute threatens everything from pending talks to expand the modest US$11 billion (S$15 billion) India-Canada trade relationship to communications between the two countries’ militaries.

It is something that could create a headache for Mr Biden as he seeks greater cohesion from partner nations. 

Mr Modi’s government sees Mr Trudeau as politically beholden to the Sikh community, and expects relations with Canada to deteriorate, according to an Indian official with knowledge of the situation.

At the same time, the person said, India-US security cooperation is on a strong footing and is unlikely to be affected by Canada’s allegations. 

“There is this evergreen challenge that the US and some of its allies face with India, concerns about what they regard as democratic backsliding,” said Mr Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center.

“But at the same time they want to ensure they don’t risk imperiling relations with a country that they view as strategically critical. Honestly, I think Washington will just stay quiet.”

The historical issue of Sikh separatism has troubled Canada-India relations for years, and politicians in both countries have tapped into the issue to win votes.

Canada has the largest Sikh population outside of the Indian state of Punjab after many left following riots in 1984.

They have also become an important political group, including within Mr Trudeau’s administration.

Mr Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, has pushed policies appealing to voters who see India as a Hindu nation. 

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected]

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