Canada claims 'tonal shift' in tense relations with India

Canada claims 'tonal shift' in tense relations with India
Courtesy: ANI

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he believes India's relations with Canada may have undergone "a tonal shift" in the days since the unsealing of a US indictment alleging a conspiracy to murder India-designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.

The Canadian prime minister made the remarks in an end-of-year interview with the CBC's Rosemary Barton.

The U.S. indictment appears to have convinced the Indian government to adopt a more sober tone, said Trudeau.

"I think there is a beginning of an understanding that they can't bluster their way through this and there is an openness to collaborating in a way that perhaps they were less open before," he said during the interview.

"We don't want to be in a situation of having a fight with India right now over this," he added.

"We want to be working on that trade deal. We want to be advancing the Indo-Pacific strategy. But it is foundational for Canada to stand up for people's rights, for people's safety, and for the rule of law. And that's what we're going to do," said the Canadian PM.

The US Justice Department recently unsealed an indictment against an Indian national for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate Pannun.

The Justice Department claimed that an Indian government employee (named CC-1), who was not identified in the indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan, recruited an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to carry out the assassination, which was foiled by US authorities, according to prosecutors.

Gupta is currently in custody and has been charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on June 30, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic.

Reacting to the Justice Department's indictment, the Ministry of External Affairs said the case filed against an individual in a US court, allegedly linking him to an Indian official, was a "matter of concern" and is contrary to government policy.

"We cannot share any further information on such security matters. As regards the case against an individual that has been filed in a US court allegedly linking him to an Indian official, this is a matter of concern. We have said and let me reiterate that this is contrary to government policy" the MEA spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, last week, Canadian PM Trudeau claimed that he had made public allegations against India in the killing of Hardeep Nijjar as there was a need to put a 'chill on India' in light of what was being reported in India.

Trudeau was speaking to the Canadian press in a year-end interview on Monday.

Trudeau noted that he made the announcement on September 18 because he expected that information would be eventually leaked though the media. He asserted that he wanted Canadians to know the government was on top of the situation

"Too many Canadians were worried that they were vulnerable," Trudeau said in the interview this week, adding the Sikh community in B.C. had been raising concerns since shortly after Nijjar was killed.

"We felt that all the quiet diplomacy and all the measures that we put in -- and ensured that our security services put in to keep people safe in the community - needed a further level of deterrence, perhaps of saying publicly and loudly that we know, or we have credible reasons to believe, that the Indian government was behind this," he said.

"And therefore put a chill on them continuing or considering doing anything like this."

The allegations made by the Canadian Prime Minister had been out rightly rejected by India's Ministry of External Affairs which had dubbed them absurd and motivated.


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