Months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada accused India’s government of plotting a murder on Canadian soil — plunging diplomatic relations between the two countries to their lowest level ever — the first arrests in the killing, which came on Friday, did little to demystify the basis of his claim.

The police didn’t offer clues or present any evidence that India had orchestrated the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh nationalist leader who was gunned down at the temple he led in Surrey, British Columbia, in June. What they did say was that three Indian men had committed the killing and that an investigation into India’s role was ongoing.

Before the arrests, Indian officials had maintained that Canada was trying to drag New Delhi into what it described as essentially a rivalry between gangs whose members were long wanted for crimes back in India.

After the arrests, a report from the CBC, Canada’s public broadcasting corporation, based on anonymous sources, also said the suspects belonged to an Indian criminal gang.

But analysts and former officials said that the possible role of a gang in the killing does not necessarily mean the Indian government was not involved in the crime.

India’s external spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW, has long been suspected of tapping into criminal networks to carry out operations in its immediate neighborhood in South Asia while maintaining deniability.


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