India Rejects Sikh Plot Report, Slams Canada Over Separatists

(Bloomberg) -- India dismissed a Washington Post report alleging senior members of the country’s intelligence agency approved a plot to kill a US-based Sikh activist, while on the same day raising concerns about separatists sentiments made at a Sikh event in Canada.

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The newspaper “makes unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations of a serious matter,” Randhir Jaiswal, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a statement Tuesday. A high level committee set up by the government is investigating the matter and the “speculative and irresponsible” comments aren’t helpful, he said.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the former head of Research and Analysis Wing, India’s spy agency, and other senior ranking officials, had approved the alleged plan to kill a Sikh activist on American soil last year. The report was based on interviews with several officials in the US, India and elsewhere who were not identified.

India’s investigation committee, which hasn’t made its findings public yet, found rogue operatives not authorized by the government were involved in the plot, Bloomberg News has previously reported.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the intended victim in the US plot, is designated a terrorist by India for his involvement in a Sikh separatist movement seeking an independent state of Khalistan.

The Post report came the same day India lashed out at Canada for not doing enough to clamp down on separatist sentiments at an event attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday. India summoned Canada’s deputy high commissioner on Monday to lodge its protest after separatist slogans were shouted at the event in Toronto where Trudeau spoke.

“This illustrates once again the political space that has been given in Canada to separatism, extremism and violence,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said Monday. “Their continued expressions not only impact India-Canada relations but also encourage a climate of violence and criminality in Canada to the detriment of its own citizens.”

Relations between the two countries have plummeted after Trudeau last year accused India’s government of involvement in the killing of another Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India has denied the allegations. Nijjar was part of the Khalistani movement and designated a terrorist under Indian laws.

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