External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, at a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York, was asked about reports that intelligence about the killing was shared amongst the Five Eyes – the intelligence-sharing alliance – and that the FBI is telling Sikh leaders in the US that there are credible threats to them.
He replied, “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.”
‘Five Eyes’ network is an intelligence alliance consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is both surveillance-based and signals intelligence (SIGINT).
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had on September 18 made an explosive allegation of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, in Surrey in British Columbia on June 18.
He was then asked about Canadians providing documents to India that purported to show evidence that Indian officials in Canada were aware of the attack on Nijjar.
“Are you saying the Canadians gave us documents,” Jaishankar asked.
“I have said that if somebody gives us specific or relevant information, we are prepared to look at it,” he added.
When asked again if he had not received those intercepted communications from Canada, Jaishankar replied, “If I had, would I not be looking at it?”
Asked about the allegations, Jaishankar detailed India’s response in diplomatic engagements.
India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said on Tuesday that India has told Canada it was open to looking into any “specific” or “relevant” information it provides on the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Addressing the India-Canada row, Jaishankar said, “We told the Canadians that this is not the government of India’s policy. If you have something specific and if you have something relevant, let us know. We are open to looking at it. The picture is not complete without the context in a way.”
India last week suspended new visas for Canadians and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country, citing what it called a deteriorating security environment.
India had been “badgering the Canadians” about its claims that organized criminals are based there, a reference to terrorists like Nijjar, he said, adding that India had made “a large number of extradition requests.”
He added, “You also have to appreciate that in the last few years, Canada actually has seen a lot of organized crime, relating to the secessionist forces, organized crime, violence and extremism. They’re all very, very deeply mixed up. So in fact, we have been talking about specifics and information. We’ve given them a lot of information about organized crime and leadership, which operates out of Canada.There are a large number of extradition requests. There are terrorist leaders, who have been identified.”
Talking about how diplomats are threatened and Indian consulates being attacked in Canada, Jaishankar said, “Our concern is that it’s really been very permissive, for 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…”
Allies of Canada, including the United States, have cautiously expressed concern over the claims and urged India to cooperate with Canada’s investigation.
The US ambassador to Canada told Canadian television that some information on the case had been gathered by the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.