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Canada’s intelligence chief made unannounced visits to India twice this year

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NEW DELHI, June 9: Canada’s intelligence agency chief David Vigneault paid two quiet visits to India in February and March to apprise Indian officials of the case relating to the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, people familiar with the matter said.

Vigneault, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), is learnt to have shared information that emerged during Ottawa’s investigation into the killing.

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The ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations in September last year of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar.

New Delhi rejected Trudeau’s charges as “absurd”.

Vigneault’s unannounced visits to India came weeks before Canada arrested three Indian nationals — Karanpreet Singh (28), Kamalpreet Singh (22) and Karan Brar (22)– on charges of alleged involvement in Nijjar’s killing.

Subsequently, a fourth Indian, Amandeep Singh, was arrested by the Canadian authorities.

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Nijjar, who was declared a terrorist by India, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in British Columbia in Surrey on June 18 last year.

The murder is being probed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

A government of Canada official said: “We can confirm that the Director of CSIS, David Vigneault, has travelled to India but we do not comment on the nature or substance of closed-door meetings.”

“With that said, since Canada became aware of the credible allegations, we have consistently provided all the information we can to India on the Nijjar case, through multiple channels,” he said.

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“This has also been noted by Prime Minister Trudeau and Canada’s minister for public safety on the public record,” he added.

The official said, “Canada’s priorities from the start have been to ensure truth and accountability. This is in both our countries’ interest. In this regard, Canada continues to underscore the importance of the ongoing, independent investigation led by the RCMP.”

There was no comment from the Indian side when asked about Vigneault’s visits.

The people cited above said besides Vigneault, some other Canadian officials also visited India this year apparently to discuss various aspects of the case related to Nijjar’s murder.

India has officially been maintaining that it has not received any specific information relating to the case from Canada.

New Delhi has been maintaining that the main issue has been that of Canada giving space to pro-Khalistani elements operating from Canadian soil with impunity.

In the last few months, India has been expressing concerns over the security of its diplomats in Canada and calling on Ottawa to ensure that they can carry out their responsibilities without fear.

There have been instances of pro-Khalistani elements threatening to harm Indian diplomats.

Days after Trudeau’s allegations last year, India asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country to ensure parity.

Canada subsequently withdrew 41 diplomats and their family members from India. (PTI)

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