Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters stirs up overseas media, questions India's connection to high-profile killing

  • 14/03/2024
Numerous Indian media outlets have reported on Peter's statements.
Numerous Indian media outlets have reported on Peter's statements. Photo credit: Getty Images

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has caused a stir overseas while on a four-day trip to India in his capacity as Foreign Affairs Minister.   

While in New Delhi, Peters was interviewed by The Indian Express and underlined an absence of conclusive evidence or findings corroborating the alleged involvement of Indian agents in a high-profile killing in Canada in 2023.   

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a Khalistani separatist killed outside a Sikh temple in Vancouver, Canada in June last year by two gunmen wearing dark clothes.  

He wanted the establishment of a separate homeland for Sikhs, who are a religious minority that make up 2 percent of India's population.  

Nijjar died at the scene and those close to him said he was warned by Canadian intelligence services that he was on a "hit list".  

India had labelled Nijjar a terrorist and accused him of being the mastermind behind a militant group banned in India.  

After Nijjar's death, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused his killers of being "agents of the Indian government" who killed a Canadian citizen.   

"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," he said at the time.  

The Indian Express asked Peters whether Canada had shared any evidence with Peters as part of the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance.

"Well, I wasn't here, it was handled by the previous government. But look, sometimes when you’re hearing Five-Eyes information, you're hearing it and saying nothing. It is coming past you. You don’t know the value or the quality of it, but you’re pleased to have it," he told The Indian Express.  

"You don't know whether there is going to be substantial material value or nothing. But the very, very critical information that matters… This was mainly handled by the previous government.  

"As a trained lawyer, I look okay, so where's the case? Where’s the evidence? Where's the finding right here, right now? Well, there isn't one."

The Deputy Prime Minister was in India working on securing a free trade deal and was travelling to Indonesia on Thursday morning New Zealand time.  

"We have laid a strong foundation for the Coalition Government’s priority of enhancing New Zealand-India relations to generate significant future benefit for both countries," Peters said of the trip.  

A spokesperson for Peters clarified, "New Zealand’s position on the allegations remains unchanged - if they are proven correct then that would be of serious concern.   

"The Minister's point is that this is an ongoing criminal investigation. It needs to run its course before clear conclusions can be drawn."  

Numerous Indian media outlets have reported on Peter's statements.  

WIO News presented them as "New Zealand raises doubt over Canada's Nijjar killing 'evidence' against India".  

Republic World reported Peters 'casts doubt', and also that Khalistani figurehead Gurpatwant Singh Pannun had threatened Peters. 

The outlet reported Pannun had "threatened to attack Indian diplomats in New Zealand".  

Peters has since talked with Canadian High Commissioner to India Cameron MacKay. 

Peters reportedly re-iterated to MacKay that New Zealand's position was unchanged, that he was not questioning Canada's claims, and that he appreciated it was an ongoing investigation.