A week after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched allegations linking the Indian government to the death of Pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Ottawa's ambassador to the United Nations Bob Rae said that his Indian counterpart Ruchira Kamboj discussed the claims with him on Tuesday, 26 September.
Speaking to CBC News, Rae said that Kamboj pulled him aside after his UNGA address and "thanked him."
"She pulled me aside to say it's important that we keep working together as the governments try to work out the situation that has to be worked on," Rae said and added, "I took some comfort from that. I think that there is room for diplomacy and I think we're going to see more room as we go forward."
Moreover, he said, "I think it is important for people to know that every effort has to be made to find an approach that will deal with the problem and deal with the issue that we've raised, because it is extremely important," and added:
Canadians must "understand that there's a lot of connecting that we need to do and a lot of mutual respect that we need to achieve in order to get to a better place."
However, addressing the UNGA, Rae said that Canadians were worried about foreign interference and said, "We cannot bend the rules of state-to-state relations for political expediency because we've seen and continue to see the extent to which democracies are under threat through various means of foreign interference."
"But the truth is, if we don't adhere to the rules that we've agreed to, the very fabric of our open and of our free societies may start to tear," he added.
EAM Jaishankar's Replies to Allegations
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is also in New York for the UN's High-Level Week, also said that the Indian government is open into investigating any specific information Ottawa has regarding NIjjar's killing.
Speaking at the 'Discussion at Council on Foreign Relations' event moderated by former US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster, Jaishankar said:
"One, we told the Canadians that this is not the government of India's policy...Two, we told the Canadians ... that look, if you have something specific, if you have something relevant, you know, let us know — we are open to looking at it."
He was asked by a New York Magazine journalist regarding the evoidence provided by Ottawa, specifically evidence of communications of Indian diplomats that were intercepted.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had earlier said that India has been provided with all the necessary information and documentation.
While the journalist proceeded with his query, the EAM sharply said, “Are you saying that the Canadians gave us documents?”
After the reporter asked him the question a second time, he replied, “I have said that if somebody gives us specific or relevant information, we’re prepared to look at it" and added:
"If I had, would I not be looking at it?”
Subsequently, he refused to respond to a question regarding evidence-sharing between the Five Eyes intelligence group and also about reports that the FBI told US-based Sikhs about threats to their life.
“I’m not part of the Five Eyes, I’m certainly not part of the FBI, so I think you’re asking the wrong person."
He also stressed that the Indian government has provided Canada with information about "anti-India" crime prevalent in the country and added that New Delhi has sent across multiple extradition requests that have not been acted upon.
"We have given them a lot of information about organised crime and leadership, which operates out of Canada. There are a large number of extradition requests.
There are terrorist leaders, who have been identified," he said and added that India has provided Ottawa with "a lot of information about organised crime leadership, which operates out of Canada."
"Our concern is that it's really been very permissive, because of political reasons. So we have a situation where our diplomats are threatened, our consulates have been attacked...A lot of this is often justified, as saying that's how democracies work. If somebody gives me something specific, it doesn't have to be restricted to Canada. But if there's any incident which is an issue and somebody gives me something specific, as a government, I would look at it."