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Surveilling Diplomats, Tip-Off from Allies: Behind Canada's Charge Against India

Moreover, The Quint learnt that Joe Biden raised Hardeep Singh Nijjar's death with PM Modi before the public claims.

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As diplomatic tensions between India and Canada continue to boil after PM Justin Trudeau alleged India's involvement in the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, sources told The Quint that the claims originated from "surveillance of Indian diplomats posted in Canada."

Without naming the diplomats in question, a source told The Quint:

"Multiple high-level officials of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa were surveilled" and moreover, "SIGINT (signals intelligence) inputs and human intelligence inputs, specifically reports about Indian officials and Indian diplomats in Canada were sent by the Five Eyes intelligence alliance."

However, they declined to name the ally who provided information to Canada or comment on the contents of the communications.

The Five Eyes alliance includes the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand - one of whom provided intelligence with regards to Nijjar's killing, who was gunned down outside a Sikh temple Canada’s British Columbia province in June.

But that is not all.

Surveilling Diplomats, Tip-Off from Allies: Behind Canada's Charge Against India

  1. 1. US Raised Nijjar's Killing With India 

    Moreover, sources in Washington DC told The Quint that the United States was "one of several Five Eyes nations" who raised their concerns regarding Nijjar's murder during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, after it was brought to their attention by Justin Trudeau. However, they did not confirm if the incident was a part of talks between President Joe Biden and PM Narendra Modi.

    They further said, "The President felt that it was important to raise his concerns with PM Modi, which is in line with the administration's values and policies." While no condemnation or allegations stemmed from the US, officials denied allegations that Washington will remain silent to avoid antagonising New . "

    Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday dismissed such suggestions, said that the US takes the allegations “seriously” and added that Washington will defend its principles without considering its relationship with the country in question.

    “We are in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts,” Sullivan said and added that they have also been “in touch” with the Indian government.

    Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong had spoken to reporters on the sidelines of the UNGA Session in New York and said that they had “raised concerns” with New Delhi.

    Expand
  2. 2. What Has Happened So Far? 

    Highlights from India's Press Conference:

    Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India has told the Government of Canada that there should be "parity in strength in our mutual diplomatic presence" and added that they are expecting a "reduction (in staff) from the Canadian side."

    Here are the top points from the address:

    • "There is a degree of prejudice here.... To us, it seems that these allegations by government of Canada are primarily politically driven."

    • "We are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us, but so far we have received no specific information from Canada."

    • "If you're talking about reputational issues and reputational damage, if there's any country that needs to look at this, I think it is Canada and its growing reputation as a place, as a safe haven for terrorists, for extremists, and for organized crime.

    • "We've sought either extradition request or assistance...at least more than 20-25 individuals we've requested over the years but the response has not been helpful at all."

    India Suspends Visa Services:

    Indian Visa services in Canada were suspended for "operational reasons" till further notice on Thursday, 21 September, the BLS India Visa Application Centre said quoting an "Important notice from Indian Mission."

    MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, addressing the weekly media briefing said:

    "You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commission and Consulates in Canada. This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our High Commission and Consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications."

    Meanwhile, the Canadian High Commission in India said that all of Canada's missions in India remain functional.

    Security Fears on Both Sides:

    The High Commission of Canada on Thursday said it expects India to provide for the security of its accredited diplomats and consular officers in India in light of the current environment where "tensions have heightened."

    "In the context of respect for obligations under the Vienna conventions, we expect India to provide for the security of our accredited diplomats and consular officers in India, just as we are for theirs here," the High Commission added.

    Meanwhile, the Indian MEA issued an advisory on Wednesday asking Indians in Canada to "exercise utmost caution" due to "growing anti-India activities" and “politically-condoned hate crimes”.

    Both Sides Expel Diplomats:

    Following Trudeau's comments, Canada expelled1997 Punjab cadre IPS Pawan Kumar Rai, who was posted at the Indian mission in Ottawa.

    In return, India expelled Canadian diplomat and intelligence officer Olivier Sylvestre for "interference" in India's "internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities".

    Sylvestere is a high-ranking intelligence officer in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and top diplomat in India, The Quint has learnt.

    Trudeau's Allegations:

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday alleged the involvement of Indian government officials in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, alleged to be involved in separatist activities.

    Trudeau said that Canadian security agencies had "credible" evidence that "agents of the Indian government" had assassinated Nijjar, who was a Canadian citizen. 

    "Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open, and democratic societies conduct themselves," Trudeau said in parliament.

    India "completely rejected" the claims and went ahead to publicly declare its concerns at "Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

US Raised Nijjar's Killing With India 

Moreover, sources in Washington DC told The Quint that the United States was "one of several Five Eyes nations" who raised their concerns regarding Nijjar's murder during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, after it was brought to their attention by Justin Trudeau. However, they did not confirm if the incident was a part of talks between President Joe Biden and PM Narendra Modi.

They further said, "The President felt that it was important to raise his concerns with PM Modi, which is in line with the administration's values and policies." While no condemnation or allegations stemmed from the US, officials denied allegations that Washington will remain silent to avoid antagonising New . "

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday dismissed such suggestions, said that the US takes the allegations “seriously” and added that Washington will defend its principles without considering its relationship with the country in question.

“We are in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts,” Sullivan said and added that they have also been “in touch” with the Indian government.

Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong had spoken to reporters on the sidelines of the UNGA Session in New York and said that they had “raised concerns” with New Delhi.

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What Has Happened So Far? 

Highlights from India's Press Conference:

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India has told the Government of Canada that there should be "parity in strength in our mutual diplomatic presence" and added that they are expecting a "reduction (in staff) from the Canadian side."

Here are the top points from the address:

  • "There is a degree of prejudice here.... To us, it seems that these allegations by government of Canada are primarily politically driven."

  • "We are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us, but so far we have received no specific information from Canada."

  • "If you're talking about reputational issues and reputational damage, if there's any country that needs to look at this, I think it is Canada and its growing reputation as a place, as a safe haven for terrorists, for extremists, and for organized crime.

  • "We've sought either extradition request or assistance...at least more than 20-25 individuals we've requested over the years but the response has not been helpful at all."

India Suspends Visa Services:

Indian Visa services in Canada were suspended for "operational reasons" till further notice on Thursday, 21 September, the BLS India Visa Application Centre said quoting an "Important notice from Indian Mission."

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, addressing the weekly media briefing said:

"You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commission and Consulates in Canada. This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our High Commission and Consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications."

Meanwhile, the Canadian High Commission in India said that all of Canada's missions in India remain functional.

Security Fears on Both Sides:

The High Commission of Canada on Thursday said it expects India to provide for the security of its accredited diplomats and consular officers in India in light of the current environment where "tensions have heightened."

"In the context of respect for obligations under the Vienna conventions, we expect India to provide for the security of our accredited diplomats and consular officers in India, just as we are for theirs here," the High Commission added.

Meanwhile, the Indian MEA issued an advisory on Wednesday asking Indians in Canada to "exercise utmost caution" due to "growing anti-India activities" and “politically-condoned hate crimes”.

Both Sides Expel Diplomats:

Following Trudeau's comments, Canada expelled1997 Punjab cadre IPS Pawan Kumar Rai, who was posted at the Indian mission in Ottawa.

In return, India expelled Canadian diplomat and intelligence officer Olivier Sylvestre for "interference" in India's "internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities".

Sylvestere is a high-ranking intelligence officer in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and top diplomat in India, The Quint has learnt.

Trudeau's Allegations:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday alleged the involvement of Indian government officials in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, alleged to be involved in separatist activities.

Trudeau said that Canadian security agencies had "credible" evidence that "agents of the Indian government" had assassinated Nijjar, who was a Canadian citizen. 

"Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty. It is contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open, and democratic societies conduct themselves," Trudeau said in parliament.

India "completely rejected" the claims and went ahead to publicly declare its concerns at "Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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