White House says it supports full probe into Sikh separatist’s death amid Canada-India row
The White House said Thursday it supports a law enforcement investigation into the murder of a Sikh separatist in Canada but declined to wade into thorny diplomatic matters around the killing that involves India, a key ally in Asia.
The U.S. is in an awkward spot after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week made the shocking allegation there was a potential link between “agents of the government of India” and the June killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh Canadian citizen, in a Vancouver suburb.
“As soon as we heard from the Canadian prime minister publicly about the allegations, we went out publicly, ourselves, and expressed our deep concern about them, our support for a law enforcement process to get to the bottom of exactly what happened and to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable,” Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said at a White House briefing.
“I’m not going to get into the substance of private diplomatic conversations, but we are in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts, we are consulting with them closely, we support the efforts that they are undertaking in this investigation and we have also been in touch with the Indian government as well,” he said.
Mr. Biden has courted India and its prime minister, Narendra Modi, as an economic partner and counterweight to China this year. The White House hosted Mr. Modi for a state dinner, and Mr. Biden praised India as hosts of the G20 summit this month.
Mr. Sullivan feverishly denied that the U.S. would stray from its relationship with Canada, its northern neighbor and vital trading partner.
“I have seen in the press some efforts to try to drive a wedge between the United States and Canada on this issue,” he said. “I firmly reject the idea that there is a wedge between the U.S. and Canada. We have deep concerns about the allegations and we would like to see this investigation carried forward and the perpetrators held to account.”
Masked gunmen killed Nijjar in Surrey, Canada, while he sat in his truck, shocking the Sikh community.
New Delhi officials have denounced Mr. Trudeau’s claims around their involvement as “absurd” and say they haven’t seen evidence to back up the allegation.
Nijjar supported a separatist Sikh movement that sought to establish the Khalistan nation apart from India. His activities landed him on a terrorist list maintained by the Indian government.
The fracture between Ottawa and New Delhi deepened on Thursday when India suspended visa services for Canadian citizens.
“Due to operation reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” BLS International, which handles visa services, posted on its website.