A DAY after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged India’s involvement in the killing of a prominent Sikh separatist leader, the Canadian media reported that Ottawa’s Five Eye allies were not keen on taking sides though they have said that the claims should be thoroughly probed. 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 gurudwara in Surrey in the western Canadian province of British Columbia on June 18. India has dismissed Trudeau’s allegation as “absurd and baseless.” Canada is part of a ‘Five Eyes’ network which is an intelligence alliance consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
According to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada’s other Five Eyes allies “showed little inclination on Tuesday to wade into an escalating row between Ottawa and New Delhi over allegations.” Most opted to treat the allegation as a matter still to be investigated — in spite of the fact that the Trudeau Government feels it has enough information to make an accusation in Parliament and expel a diplomat, it noted. The United States, United Kingdom and Australia have all issued statements calling for the allegations to be thoroughly probed. Terming the US National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Adm John Kirby as “perhaps the most supportive of Canada,” the CBC report said that Kirby “urged India to participate and cooperate in that investigation” as “it is important to find out exactly what happened.”
Kirby, who is also the NSC coordinator for Strategic Communications, said in an interview with CNN: “I’m going to protect diplomatic conversations and I’ll leave it at that. Certainly, the President (Trudeau) is mindful of these serious allegations, and they are very serious. And we support Canada’s efforts to investigate this.” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese refused to comment on the matter at all even as Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told a press conference in the UN Headquarters on Tuesday that “these are concerning reports, and I note that investigations are still underway” and that “We are monitoring these developments closely with our partners, and we’ll continue to do so.” Another of the allies, UK made no official announcement but its Foreign Secretary James Cleverly put out a tweet on platform X without any mention of India, the CBC report said. “All countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law,” read Cleverly’s tweet.