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'Not Trying to Provoke': Trudeau Asks India to Take Nijjar Matter Seriously

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New Delhi: A day after he accused the Indian government of involvement in the murder of a Canadian Sikh leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that he wasn’t trying to “provoke” New Delhi, but was “simply laying out the facts as we understand them”.

According to CBC, Trudeau, who was on his way to a Cabinet meeting, told reporters, “We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them,” Trudeau told reporters Tuesday, before a cabinet meeting.

“The government of India needs to take this matter with the utmost seriousness. We are doing that,” he added.

On Monday, Trudeau told the Canadian parliament that security agencies were following credible allegations that Indian agents were involved in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistani activist who was wanted in India and was shot dead outside a gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia in June this year.

The Canadian prime minister said on Tuesday that Ottawa will remain “calm.”

“We’re going to remain grounded in our democratic principles and values, we’re going to follow the evidence,” he said. “But Canadians have a right to know and need to know when things are going on like this. And that’s why we made the decision to [reveal] this.”

According to CBC, Trudeau, talking about the timing of the announcement, said that Canada’s intelligence agencies “have been working on their analysis over the summer and he wanted to first alert allies”.

“We wanted to make sure we took the time to talk with our allies and share what we knew. We wanted to make sure we fully shared with the government of India the seriousness and depth of our occupation and indeed conclusions… We are going to follow the evidence and make sure that the work is one to hold people to account,” he said, according to the Globe and Mail, which first broke the news.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Pierre Poilievre called on Trudeau to release more information about the case.

“The prime minister needs to come clean with all the facts. We need to know all of the evidence possible so that Canadians can make judgments on it,” the Conservative party leader said on Tuesday, according to CBC.

Poilievre also suggested that the Trudeau government is taking a stronger approach than it did when China arrested two Canadians in 2018 – apparently as a response to a Huawei executive’s arrest in Canada.

When asked if India should face sanctions, Poilievre said he would need to see more evidence.

“I do find it interesting that [Trudeau] knew about vast foreign interference by Beijing for many years, at the same time as Beijing kept two Canadian citizens hostage, and he said nothing and he did nothing,” Poilievre said.

“Just very interesting that was the approach he took.”

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