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Canada names India in probe on foreign interference in elections

India is hit with allegations of meddling in Candian elections alongside China and Russia

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 25 January 2024 08:07 GMT
Trudeau says India must take Canada claims seriously after US indictment

A public inquiry has sought information from the Canadian government over allegations of meddling by India in the country’s 2019 and 2021 elections, potentially further inflaming the already-heated relations between the two countries.

The inquiry commission was set up by prime minister Justin Trudeau’s government last year to conduct public probe after leaked intelligence documents claimed China’s interference in Canadian elections.

It is the first time India has been hit with allegations of election interference in Canada, joining China and Russia that were already suspected of meddling in Canadian politics.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has been included in the investigation after the commission requested the Canadian government to provide documents "relating to alleged interference by India related to the 2019 and 2021 elections”.

"The commission will also examine the flow of information within the federal government in relation to these issues, evaluate the actions taken in response, assess the federal government’s capacity to detect, deter, and counter foreign interference, and make recommendations on these issues," it said.

The commission is led by Quebec Judge Marie-Josee Hogue and is charged with conducting an independent public inquiry into allegations of attempted foreign interference in Canadian affairs by China, Russia and other countries.

It did not provide details about the allegations against the Indian government.

India is yet to respond to the development.

Flags and signs are seen as demonstrators protest outside India’s consulate, a week after Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the prospect of New Delhi’s involvement in the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in 2023

The latest accusations against India threaten to worsen its relations with Canada which hit rock bottom after Mr Trudeau went public with allegations that New Delhi was involved in the assassination of a Sikh national on Canadian soil. Masked attackers fatally shot Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian labeled a terrorist by India due to his advocacy for an autonomous Sikh state known as Khalistan.

The allegations triggered a diplomatic storm between the two countries after India furiously denied it as “absurd and motivated”. The diplomatic standoff has continued since as both removed their top envoys in a tit-for-tat move and in October it forced Ottawato withdraw its 40 diplomats from India.

India temporarily suspended visas for Canadians while Canada on Monday announced a two-year cap on new international student permits, citing a housing shortage and other economic issues.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in India for G20 summit in 2023

The Canadian government’s accusations were bolstered after the US prosecutors in November accused two Indian government agents of orchestrating a thwarted assassination bid of a Sikh separatist leader in New York.

The indictment detailed how Indian national Nikhil Gupta was hired by an Indian government employee to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a vocal critic of India who has been designated a terrorist by New Delhi.

The investigating panel is set to complete the interim report into the inquiry by 3 may and release the final report by 31 December.

China has denied the allegation and urged Ottawa to “stop hyping up China-related lies and false information”.

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