“Work on the trade negotiations will continue as before, and the Canadian authorities will conduct their work which we’re not going to pre-empt,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson has said, amid allegations by Canada of alleged Indian government involvement in the murder of a pro-Khalistan extremist.
In response to queries over the India-Canada diplomatic row, Sunak’s spokesperson added: “It’s important not to get ahead of the work that our Canadian partners are doing in regard to this allegation. India have put out their own statement on this.
“For our part, when we have concerns with countries, we’re negotiating trade deals with, we’ll raise them directly; these negotiations are with regards to a trade deal, and we’re not looking to conflate these issues.”
The Downing Street statement from London came as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement in the country's Parliament this week that it is “actively pursuing credible allegations" related to Indian government involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Chief of Khalistan Tiger Force and a designated terrorist, in British Columbia in June.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We are in close touch with our Canadian partners about these serious allegations.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further during the ongoing investigation by the Canadian authorities.”
While the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has categorically rejected the Canadian claims as “absurd and motivated”, British Indian diaspora groups also expressed their fury.
The MEA statement reads: “Allegations of Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated. Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected. We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law.
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“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern.”
The issue had overshadowed Trudeau’s G20 Leaders’ Summit visit to New Delhi earlier this month, with both sides later announcing that their trade talks had been “paused”. The latest allegations, which were accompanied by tit-fot-tat expulsions of senior diplomats on both sides, will further intensify tensions between India and Canada.
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*Info: MEA Statement