New Zealand tells Canada position on pro-Khalistan figure Nijjar killing unchanged

The Government of New Zealand has reached out to Ottawa to clarify that it’s position on the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar has not changed, after doubts arose following an interview with its Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters appeared in an Indian outlet on Wednesday.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of New Zealand, Winston Peters, at Vice President House in New Delhi, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (PTI)

The outlet Globe and Mail cited a response from the Foreign Ministry in Wellington in this context. It quoted a spokesperson as saying, “New Zealand’s position on the allegations remains unchanged – if they are proven correct, then that would be of serious concern.”

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However, the statement also added, “The minister’s point is that this is an ongoing criminal investigation. It needs to run its course before clear conclusions can be drawn.”

The daily also cited an unnamed Canadian official as saying that Wellington had reached out to the Canadian Government and clarified that Peters’ “comments were taken out of context and that the story doesn’t reflect its position.”

In an interview published in the Indian Express, Peters said, “As a trained lawyer, I look okay, so where’s the case? Where’s the evidence? Where’s the finding right here, right now? Well, there isn’t one.”

However, he had also said the matter had been handled by the previous Government. “You don’t know whether there is going to be substantial material value or nothing. But the very, very critical information that matters. This was mainly handled by the previous government,” he said.

That was considered significant because those views came from a leader of a Five Eyes nation, a bloc which also includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

The killing of Nijjar, a Khalistani separatist and the principal organiser for the secessionist Sikhs for Justice or SFJ in the province of British Columbia, threw bilateral relations between India and Canada into turmoil after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in the House of Commons on September 18 that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the murder.

However, the outlet had reported last week that the Trudeau Government was unhappy over the lack of progress in the investigation into the killing in Surrey on June 18. “A senior federal source said the Trudeau government is frustrated that no arrests have been made,” it said.

India has maintained that while Canada has sought cooperation from New Delhi in the investigation, no “specific” or “relevant” information has been provided by Ottawa.

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