India waits for details on arrests in Canada over Sikh separatist's murder

Suspects in relation to the murder in Canada of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar

By Jatindra Dash

BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) -India will wait for Canadian police to share information on the three Indian men it has arrested and charged with the murder of a Sikh separatist leader last year, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Saturday.

Canadian police charged the three on Friday over the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar and said they were probing whether the suspects had links to the Indian government.

Jaishankar said he had seen news of the arrests and said the suspects "apparently are Indians of some kind of gang background... we'll have to wait for the police to tell us."

"But, as I said, one of our concerns which we have been telling them is that, you know, they have allowed organized crime from India, specifically from Punjab, to operate in Canada," said Jaishankar.

Sanjay Verma, India's high commissioner to Canada, said that it hopes to get regular updates from Canadian authorities regarding the three arrested Indians.

"I understand that the arrests have been made as a result of investigations conducted by the relevant Canadian law enforcement agencies. This issue is internal to Canada and therefore we have no comments to offer in this regard," Verma added.

The trio, all Indian nationals, were arrested in the city of Edmonton in Alberta on Friday, police said.

Nijjar, 45, was shot dead in June outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. A few months later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited credible allegations of Indian government involvement, prompting a diplomatic crisis with New Delhi.

Nijjar was a Canadian citizen campaigning for the creation of Khalistan, an independent Sikh homeland carved out of India. The presence of Sikh separatist groups in Canada has long frustrated New Delhi, which had labeled Nijjar a "terrorist".

Canadian police said they had worked with U.S. law enforcement agencies, without giving additional details, and suggested more detentions might be coming.

(Reporting by Jatindra Dash and by Promit Mukherjee in Ottawa; Additional Reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal;Writing by Arpan ChaturvediEditing by Ros Russell and Diane Craft)