Canada to examine alleged election interference by India amid existing tensions
Canada's federal commission of inquiry into foreign interference is looking to examine alleged meddling by India in the country's last two general elections. The commission had been set up in September last year to probe possible interference by China, Russia, and other foreign states or non-state actors in the 2019 and 2021 Canadian federal elections.
In a release on Wednesday, the Commission said it has “requested that the Government of Canada’s collection and production of document” should include "information and documents relating to alleged interference by India related to the 2019 and 2021 elections.”
The commission's initial hearings, to begin Monday, will look at the challenges and limitations of disclosing classified national security information and intelligence to the public.
An interim report from the commission is due on May 3, with a final report expected by the end of the year.
Ties between India and Canada are already under severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations on September 18 last year of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.
India rejected Trudeau's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated".
In November, the US federal prosecutors charged that one Nikhil Gupta was working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill a Sikh separatist, who holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada.
Though the separatist Sikh leader was not named, media reports identified him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the leader of the Sikhs for Justice, an organisation banned in India.
India has already constituted a probe committee to investigate allegations.
Days after Trudeau's allegations in September, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens and asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country to ensure parity.
India resumed some visa services in Canada in November, more than a month after they were suspended.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI)