US intelligence on Harpreet Singh Nijjar’s killing helped Justin Trudeau conclude India was behind Sikh leader’s assassination


In a setback to India, it has emerged that the US had provided Canada with key intelligence inputs on the killing of Sikh leader Harpreet Singh Nijjar. This intelligence was key in helping Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau conclude that India was involved in the killing of a pro-Khalistani leader on Canadian soil.

The New York Times reported that US intelligence agencies offered their Canadian counterparts context in the aftermath of Nijjar’s killing. This, the report added, helped Canada conclude that India had been involved. However, Canadian officials gathered their own inputs by intercepting communications of Indian diplomats in Canada. This too was key in establishing India’s role in killing Nijjar.

Nijjar was killed by two assassins in British Columbia on 18 June. Nijjar’s killing has caused a huge diplomatic row between Canada and India. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said in the House of Commons that India was behind the killing of a Canadian citizen. Canada had also expelled a top-ranking diplomat from the country.

In a retaliatory move, India too had expelled a Canadian diplomat from Delhi. India later announced the suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens.

The US said that it had no prior knowledge of Nijjar’s killing, adding that it would have informed Canada if it had known about the plot to kill the pro-Khalistan Sikh leader.

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Canada is a member of Five Eyes nations comprising the United Kingdom, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Each member nation has agreed to the ‘duty to warn’ doctrine whenever it has relevant intelligence inputs.

There are also reports that Canadian officials had warned Nijjar about a potential danger to his life but had not told him that he was the target of an assassination attempt by the Indian government.