India-Canada row: US intel involvement could ensnare Washington, says report

24 September,2023 04:52 PM IST |  Washington  |  mid-day online correspondent

A recent report in The New York Times reveals that US intelligence agencies played a role in the ongoing diplomatic dispute between India and Canada.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) speaks as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on, in this file picture. (AFP)

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A recent report in The New York Times reveals that US intelligence agencies played a role in the ongoing diplomatic dispute between India and Canada. According to Western-allied officials, US spy agencies shared information with Canadian counterparts following the killing of a Khalistan terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in the Vancouver area. However, it was Canada that obtained the most definitive intelligence, including intercepted communications involving Indian diplomats in Canada, suggesting their involvement in the plot, stated an ANI report.

The pivotal evidence collected by Canadian officials has led Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make allegations against India, sparking a diplomatic standoff. This revelation of US intelligence involvement risks entangling Washington in the dispute just as the US aims to strengthen its partnership with India amid growing concerns over China's influence in Asia.

According to the report, US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken has called upon India to cooperate with the Canadian investigation, but US officials are cautious about triggering diplomatic repercussions from India. Notably, US intelligence agencies were unaware of the plot or evidence implicating India until after Nijjar's assassination.

Before Nijjar's killing on June 18 outside a gurudwara, Canadian authorities had repeatedly warned him about threats to his life and advised him to avoid the temple. After his death, American officials informed their Canadian counterparts that they had no advance information about the plot but stressed they would have shared it under the "duty to warn" doctrine, the ANI report further stated.

The United States typically shares intercepted communications with close intelligence partners like Canada. In this case, contextual information related to the assassination was deliberately shared as part of a comprehensive intelligence package.

The accusations have strained diplomatic ties between Ottawa and New Delhi, leading to the expulsion of each other's intelligence officers and India suspending visas for Canadians. Prime Minister Trudeau and Canadian officials have refrained from disclosing specific intelligence to protect the ongoing Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation.

While allied officials have been cautious about divulging details, a Canadian government official, speaking anonymously, confirmed that they had received intelligence from multiple countries. India has dismissed the allegations as absurd and motivated.

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