New Delhi: The India-Canada diplomatic spat has crossed into the political sphere across the border, with at least three US lawmakers expressing concern at the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. One of them also called for a briefing from the US administration to assess accountability.
A week earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of involvement in the fatal shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been accused of being a Khalistani terrorist by New Delhi. India dismissed the allegations as “biased” and “motivated”. Both countries have expelled a diplomat each, with India having taken an additional step of stopping visa services for Canadian nationals.
On Monday, three Democrat US representatives, all of them members of the American Sikh congressional caucus, raised the Nijjar killings on their social media accounts.
Jim Costa, a Democrat from California, tweeted that that he had asked for an official briefing from the Joe Biden administration as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We must fully investigate this crime to determine who should be held accountable,” he said.
I am very concerned about reports that Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Niijar was assassinated, and I have requested an official briefing as a member of the House Foreign Affairs committee.
We must fully investigate this crime to determine who should be held accountable.
— Rep. Jim Costa (@RepJimCosta) September 24, 2023
The chair of the Sikh congressional caucus, John Garamendi, another Californian Democrat, also tweeted that there should be “justice” for the killing of Nijjar. He also extended condolences to Nijjar’s family.
The perpetrators of the attack against Canadian citizen Hardeep Sing Nijjar must be brought to justice. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.
— John Garamendi (@RepGaramendi) September 25, 2023
Meanwhile, Eric Swalwell, also from California, commented on a report from The Intercept which said that the FBI had warned US Sikhs of threats following Nijjar’s killing.
“I’m concerned by reports that India’s government is targeting Sikh activists abroad & will seek to learn more as a member of the Committee on Homeland Security. I will work with local & federal government officials to ensure necessary actions are undertaken to protect the Sikh community,” he tweeted.
As a member of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, I stand with the Sikh community against hate & political violence. Sikhs deserve to live in peace in America & worldwide, free from political persecution. I’m concerned by reports that India’s government is targeting Sikh… https://t.co/mCt4vLVX37
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) September 25, 2023
The US government has urged India to join the Canadian investigation, with secretary of state Antony Blinken asserting that Washington is “vigilant against any instances of transnational repression”.
State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller reiterated on Monday that Washington remains “deeply concerned by the allegations referenced by Canadian PM Trudeau”.
“We remain in close contact with our Canadian partners. We believe it’s critical that Canada’s investigation proceed and that the perpetrators be brought to justice. We have publicly and privately urged the Indian Government to cooperate in the Canadian investigation,” he said.
Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar is scheduled to travel to the American capital later this week and meet with the leadership.