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Co-Operating With US, Asking Canada for Inputs: Indian Envoy on Nijjar, Pannun

Sanjay Verma said that India's varied cooperation was due to disparities in information shared by the US and Canada.

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Indian High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma said that while New Delhi is collaborating with the United States' inquiry into the alleged foiled plot to assassinate Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, India is only asking Canada for “specific and relevant” evidence in the killing of Khalistan Terror Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Speaking to CTV's Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, Verma said his understanding is that the level of India's cooperation in both cases was due to disparities in the information shared by the US and Canada during their respective investigations.

He added that rather of the differences, Indo-Canada relations should focus on convergence since New Delhi is still open to engage in business relations and to send more business delegations to Canada.

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According to a story published in the Financial Times, US authorities foiled a conspiracy to assassinate designated terrorist Gurpreet Singh Pannun on US soil and has also issued a warning to New Delhi over concerns of the India government's involvement.

The report came just a few months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in September, had alleged the involvement of Indian government officials in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Verma said India was "absolutely" and "decidedly" not involved in the incident, calling the allegations, which caused a diplomatic row between the two countries, were “motivated and absurd."

While Verma said that India-US ties are outside his jurisdiction, he indicated that Indian officials are actively collaborating with the US and have been shown “inputs which are legally presentable."

Meanwhile, commenting on the Canadian investigation, Verma said:

"We have always said that India is ready to look into any specific and relevant information shared by our Canadian friends and take it forward in a logical way that is legally defendable in both the countries.”

When he was asked regarding the allegations made by Trudeau, Verma said that India is "only asking for specific and relevant information so that we can help...Canadian investigators to reach their conclusion, to the extent that it will be viable for them to go for the legal action."

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“We have voiced our concerns on various occasions and not only today from through our historical relationship which we have here. I believe that there is an understanding of our concern in the Canadian policy-making circles and decision-making circles. I have seen many statements coming from the Canadian leadership respecting Indian sovereignty and territorial integrity and I have no doubt about it."

Months after Nijjar was shot dead outside a Gurudwara in Surrey, Canada, Trudeau alleged India's involvement in the murder, which were rejected by New Delhi and called “absurd and motivated." After Ottawa dismissed an Indian diplomat, India did the same and has maintained that no credible evidence has been shared by the Canadian side.

However, ties have improved since, with India resuming electronic visa services for eligible Canadian citizens after a review of the security situation last month.

Asked regarding whether Canada's National Security Advisor Jody Thomas shared any specific information over the course of her visit, Verma said:

“So conversations took place. But we needed something specific and relevant to go back to our legal authorities to seek permission to do investigation that we would have wanted to do."

"So until the time that those kinds of inputs are not there, in a country of the rule of law, it will not be possible for us to move forward on the investigations," he added.

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Meanwhile, commenting on the details shared by the US authorities, Verma said that the inputs were regarding "a nexus between gangsters, drug peddlers, terrorists, and gun runners in the US" and added that there is "a belief that some of the Indian connections."

He clarified that when he says Indian connections, he does not "mean the government of India connections, there is 1.4 billion people, so some of the Indian connections are there -- they are ready to investigate."

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, in a release, said that the US had provided information regarding ties between organised criminals, arms traffickers, terrorists, and others recently during talks on India-US security cooperation.

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Topics:  India-Canada   India-US   Hardeep Nijjar 

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