India’s High Commissioner to Canada is urging Ottawa to release evidence backing up its accusation that agents of the Indian government were behind the killing of a prominent British Columbia Sikh separatist leader, a charge that ruptured bilateral relations after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced it in September.
In an interview on Friday, the commissioner, Sanjay Kumar Verma, told The Globe and Mail that India has not been shown concrete evidence by Canada or Canada’s allies that Indian agents were involved in the June gangland-style slaying of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which took place in Burnaby, B.C.
Ottawa has said it shared credible allegations with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Canada and its allies, including the United States and Britain, have urged India to co-operate in an investigation into the matter being carried out by the RCMP.
Mr. Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, had been active in promoting the idea of turning what is now the northern Indian state of Punjab into Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland. India sees Khalistani separatists as a threat to its sovereignty and security, and has long been concerned about their activities.
Mr. Verma suggested the continuing Canadian police probe into the slaying had been damaged by Mr. Trudeau’s public statements.
“There is no specific or relevant information provided in this case for us to assist them in the investigation,” Mr. Verma said. “Where is the evidence? Where is the conclusion of the investigation? I would go a step further and say now the investigation has already been tainted. A direction has come from someone at a high level to say India or Indian agents are behind it.”
Relations between Ottawa and New Delhi have been in crisis since late September. In October, India unilaterally stripped 41 Canadian diplomats of their diplomatic immunity. All left India ahead of an Oct. 20 deadline.
Canadian government sources have said intelligence implicating agents of India includes Indian diplomatic communications that were picked up by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, as well as information from an unnamed Five Eyes ally. (The Five Eyes is an intelligence-sharing alliance made up of the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.)
While flatly denying India had played a role in the killing, Mr. Verma said any conversations between diplomats are protected and can’t be used as evidence in court or publicly released.
“You are talking about illegal wiretaps and talking about evidence. Conversations between two diplomats are secure by all international law,” he said. “Show me how you captured these conversations. Show me that someone did not mimic the voice.”
Asked if Ottawa had requested that India extradite anyone who might have been involved in the Nijjar slaying, Mr. Verma said, “Those conversations are between the two governments.”
But the envoy noted that New Delhi has made 26 requests to Ottawa over the past five or six years to extradite people in Canada to India. “We are still waiting for action,” he said.
A new poll conducted by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail suggests most Canadians want Canada to make public the evidence that led Mr. Trudeau to accuse India of being behind the slaying of Mr. Nijjar.
It found seven in 10 respondents agreed or somewhat agreed that Ottawa should unveil whatever proof it has. Two in 10 either disagreed or somewhat disagreed.
The hybrid online and telephone survey was a random survey of more than 1,000 people. It was conducted from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 and is considered accurate to plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The High Commissioner also said he has been given RCMP security because of threats to him.
His office provided photos of posters attacking him and the Indian consuls general in Vancouver and Toronto, which it said are circulating on social media and being posted publicly in those two cities. Some call the Indian diplomats “enemies of Canada,” and others accuse them of running a “terror house,” or offer bounties for their assassination.
“I feel that is hate speech and an incitement to violence,” Mr. Verma said.
“I am concerned about my safety and security. I am concerned about the safety and security of my consul generals. God forbid if something happens.”
Despite strained relations with Canada, Mr. Verma said, India would like to expand business ties.
Canada suspended talks on a trade deal with New Delhi in September and shelved a planned trade mission to India. But the High Commissioner said India would like to get back to the negotiating table on the trade deal.
The deal “should be signed as soon as possible so that traders and investors can take advantage of that,” he said.
Mr. Verma said New Delhi would welcome a delegation of Canadian businesspeople to India.
Asked what New Delhi felt was necessary to repair diplomatic relations, Mr. Verma said both sides need to ensure any disputes are dealt with “through professional communication and professional dialogue.”
But, he added, India expects Canada to rein in Khalistan supporters.
“Let the investigation run its course,” he said, referring to the probe into Mr. Nijjar’s slaying. But he said Canada must also address what he called a “core issue.”
“Don’t allow your soil to be used by a group of Canadian citizens who want to dismember India,” he said. “Who want to challenge the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.”
Asked what he proposed be done about Canadians who support carving Punjab out of India, Mr. Verma acknowledged that he was not an expert on Canadian law.
“There must be some rules, some law in place,” he said.