Terrorist Nijjar's killing: Canadian PM Trudeau's allegations against India based on shared intel among Five Eyes allies
Ottawa/Washington: The United States worked in close coordination with Canada to gather intel on the murder of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a designated terrorist in India, that had prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s offensive allegation about India’s involvement, media reports said.
A report in the media said CTV News Channel, Canada's 24-hour all-news network, reported quoting the US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen as saying that there was “shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners” that helped Canada allege a “potential” link between the government of India and the murder of a Canadian citizen, Nijjar.
According to a detailed dossier prepared by Indian authorities, and accessed by NDTV, Nijjar allegedly ordered several killings and attacks in Punjab while taking refuge on Canadian soil.
According to the dossier cited by NDTV, Nijjar a resident of the Bhar Singh Pura village in Punjab's Jalandhar, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was initiated to the gangster life by Gurnek Singh alias Neka, the dossier said. In the 1980s and 90s, he was associated with Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) militants and later since 2012, he was closely associated with Jagtar Singh Tara, Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) Chief, it added. After his name cropped up in several terrorism cases, Nijjar escaped to Canada in 1996.
Later, he allegedly came in touch with Pakistan based KTF Chief, Jagtar Singh Tara. He also visited Pakistan in the garb of a Baisakhi jatha member in April 2012 and underwent an arms and explosive training there for a fortnight, the dossier said.
‘Five Eyes’ network is an intelligence alliance comprising the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is both surveillance-based and signals intelligence (SIGINT).
In 2020, India designated Nijjar (45) as a terrorist.
As per the media report cited above, The CTV’s report is based on its exclusive interview on CTV’s programme ‘Question Period with Vassy Kapelos’ that is to air on Sunday.
CTV quoted Cohen as saying that he confirmed: “There was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to make the statements that the Prime Minister made.”
“In the days since, as diplomatic tensions continue to ratchet up — from Canada reassessing its staffing in India, to India suspending visa services for Canadians — there have been swirling questions about what intelligence is at the centre of this story, who was aware of it, and when,” the CTV report said.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar fled to Canada on a fake passport in 1996 and lived there quietly as a truck driver. However, he also travelled to Pakistan to receive training in the use of weapons and explosives. While living in Canada, he is accused of ordering several killings and attacks in Punjab.
Cohen confirmed that Canada and its Five Eyes partners (the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand) shared intelligence about India's possible involvement in the murder.
He declined to provide more details about the intelligence, but his statement suggests that it was significant enough to lead Canada to make public statements about India's involvement.
“He (Cohen) made this comment while denying a Washington Post report alleging that weeks before Trudeau’s bombshell declaration, Ottawa asked its closest allies, including the US to publicly condemn the murder and that overture was rebuffed,” the CTV said, according to the report.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is “deeply concerned” about the allegations raised by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau against India and Washington was “closely coordinating” with Ottawa on the issue and wants to see “accountability” in the case.
“We have been consulting throughout very closely with our Canadian colleagues – and not just consulting, coordinating with them – on this issue. And from our perspective, it is critical that the Canadian investigation proceed, and it would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investigation. We want to see accountability, and it’s important that the investigation run its course and lead to that result,” Blinken said.