Two months ago, relations between New Delhi and Ottawa deteriorated swiftly when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that prosecutors possessed "credible evidence” that the Indian state was behind the assassination of a Sikh separatist in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It now looks like — if Indian intelligence did in fact arrange that killing — it may not have been a onetime event. The White House has confirmed that it is "deeply concerned” that there was a similar plot to kill another Sikh separatist, this time on U.S. soil.
The Indian response to Canadian accusations contained more than a trace of contempt. Trudeau was criticized in the Indian press for being weak and unpopular, with the implication that his accusations were drummed up for political reasons. And in case that wasn’t enough, government officials accused Canada of being a "nexus” for organized crime, terrorism and human trafficking.
It seems unlikely that U.S. "concerns” will be treated in the same manner. It is much harder to paint the U.S. as weak-willed on terror, after all. Still, the official response seems to have been a nondenial denial: Assassinations on foreign soil are "not our policy.” That is similar to what the Canadians were officially told: Targeted killings are "not the government of India’s policy”. If New Delhi has to say assassinations on foreign soil are not its policy on a couple more occasions, I fear some will begin to suspect that this is, in fact, its policy.