India now cooperating on probe into Sikh separatist's killing: ex-Canadian NSA

India is now cooperating with Canada in the ongoing probe into the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia and bilateral ties are improving following months of tensions over the matter, a former Canadian national security advisor has said
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s former national security and intelligence adviser Jody Thomas
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s former national security and intelligence adviser Jody Thomas

Ottawa | India is now cooperating with Canada in the ongoing probe into the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia and bilateral ties are improving following months of tensions over the matter, a former Canadian national security advisor has said, describing the changing relationship as an “evolution.”

The remarks by Canada's former national security advisor Jody Thomas came during an interview with CTV on Friday.

She said India is now cooperating in the ongoing probe into the killing of Khalistani separatist and designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar's murder in June last year in the Canadian city of Surrey.

This is the first time a Canadian official has acknowledged that India has moved things forward following allegations of non-cooperation against India by Canada amid tensions over Nijjar's killing.

The relations between the two countries saw some bitterness last year following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegation about India's suspected involvement in the killing. India denied the allegation as "absurd and motivated."

There was no official response from the Indian government to the remarks made by Thomas, who retired on January 26.

India has maintained that Canada has never shared any evidence or information to back its claim that Indian agents were involved in the killing of Nijjar.

"I would not describe them as non-cooperating," Thomas said.

During the interview, Thomas described the changing relationship between Ottawa and New Delhi as an “evolution” and said Canada has “made advancements in that relationship.”

“My discussions with my counterpart in India have been fruitful, and I think they’ve moved things forward,” said Thomas.

When asked whether Canada’s improved relationship with India was a result of the US indictment against Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, in a murder-for-hire plot to kill Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, Thomas said: “The two are connected for sure.”

“The information that they revealed supported our position and our assertions with India. India is working with us, and my counterpart, in particular, far more closely to resolve this,” said Thomas.

Canada's ability to function in the Indo-Pacific relies on having a healthy relationship with India.

"And I think we are working back towards it,"she said.

Thomas, who was appointed to the role of National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister in January 2022, in another interview with CBC News said Canada is "working back toward a healthier relationship" with India after months of tense relations.

In October, 41 Canadian diplomats left India after it threatened to revoke their diplomatic immunity. Those diplomats have not returned.

Thomas, who flew to India on many occasions to discuss the allegations, said the reaction by Indian officials was "really unfortunate" and a "bit of a surprise."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is investigating Nijjar's case.

Thomas said the RCMP is being careful to ensure "that every 'T' is crossed and 'I' dotted to have a successful prosecution."

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