Aust expresses concern over Trudeau’s allegations against India

Australia has voiced its deep concern over allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against the Indian government

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In a diplomatic development that has raised eyebrows on the international stage, Australia has voiced its deep concern over allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against the Indian government in connection with the murder of Canadian Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The accusations have ignited fears of a potential diplomatic crisis between Canada and India, with implications for Australia’s growing trade ties with the latter.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and advocate for Sikh independence, was gunned down outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18. Nijjar had been branded a “terrorist” by the Indian government, accused of leading a militant separatist group — a charge vehemently denied by his supporters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, addressing the issue in the House of Commons, stated, “Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”

Australia, which shares intelligence with Canada through the Five Eyes agreement, finds itself in a delicate position amid these allegations. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had recently visited India for the G20 summit, where he had praised India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This visit underscored the deepening trade ties between the two nations, making the current situation even more complex.

A spokesperson for Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong conveyed Australia’s concerns in a statement to SBS News, saying, “Australia believes all countries should respect sovereignty and the rule of law. We are closely engaged with partners on developments. We have conveyed our concerns at senior levels to India.”

The spokesperson also acknowledged the potential impact of these allegations on Australian communities, particularly the Indian diaspora, stating, “The Indian diaspora are valued and important contributors to our vibrant and resilient multicultural society, where all Australians can peacefully and safely express their views.”

During the G20 summit, it remains unclear whether Prime Minister Albanese discussed Trudeau’s allegations with Prime Minister Modi. When questioned about this, Albanese declined to comment on Five Eyes intelligence matters but defended his previous reference to Modi as “the boss,” suggesting it was a lighthearted remark made in a spirit of goodwill.

“Seriously? You should chill out a bit,” he said, when a reporter asked whether he regretted labelling Modi “the boss”.

“We [were] at a venue where Bruce Springsteen played the last time I was there, and I made the point that the reception he got from the community, which was a very broad-based community, where they’re from, the Indian diaspora welcomed him.

“I welcomed Prime Minister Modi to Australia, as I welcome other guests to Australia as well,” said PM Albanese.

These recent developments regarding Trudeau’s allegations against India have put a spotlight on the delicate balance Australia must strike between its economic interests and diplomatic relationships, while also addressing concerns about human rights issues in India. Questions regarding democratic backsliding, press freedom, and minority rights in India have been raised but have yet to be addressed conclusively.

READ MORE: India rubbishes Trudeau’s allegations against India

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