(Bloomberg) -- Canada and India have increased their security exchanges in recent months over the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, including visits to India by senior Canadian officials to share a robust set of evidence on the case, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

But diplomatic relations between the two countries remain in a deep freeze ahead of the Group of Seven leaders summit in Italy this week, where both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in attendance.

David Vigneault, head of Canada’s intelligence agency, visited India twice in the first few months of this year, sharing telephone numbers and other evidence related to the murder of Nijjar, said Indian officials asking not to be named because the discussions are private. 

The intelligence chief was followed by more Canadian officials and discussions between the two sides, the people said, without giving further details of the conversations. 

India’s Ministry of External Affairs didn’t respond to a request for comment on the visit of the Canadian security officials and the discussions between the two sides. An official with Global Affairs Canada confirmed that Vigneault had traveled to India but declined to give details on the nature or substance of the meetings.

Nijjar, an Indian-born Canadian citizen who advocated for a separate Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, had been designated a terrorist under Indian laws. He was assassinated in Surrey, British Columbia, in June 2023.

A few months later, Trudeau publicly alleged that his government had credible evidence the Indian government had orchestrated the killing. In May, Canadian police arrested four Indian nationals on murder charges linked to Nijjar’s death.

So far, India has refused to launch a formal investigation to probe the involvement of Indians and its intelligence agencies. Instead, Modi’s government reacted furiously to Trudeau’s allegation, forcing Canada to downsize its diplomatic presence in India and temporarily suspending visa services to Canadians. 

At a media briefing in early May, the Indian foreign ministry repeated New Delhi’s charge that Canada had not taken India’s concerns on the issue of Sikh separatism seriously. India has “long maintained that separatists, extremists and those advocating violence have been given political space in Canada,” Randhir Jaiswal, spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry, told reporters.

By contrast, India has launched a probe on similar allegations made by the US on a thwarted assassination attempt of a US-based Sikh leader also declared a terrorist under Indian laws. 

Despite the increased contact among security agencies, Trudeau’s government has not seen any indication Modi is ready to improve diplomatic ties, said Canadian government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. Trudeau has repeatedly called on Modi to work with his government in investigating all the circumstances around Nijjar’s killing. 

A sign of how far apart the two countries remain was evident in the recent public exchanges between their leaders. After Modi was reelected on June 4, Trudeau posted a statement on X congratulating him for the victory and said Canada “stands ready to work with India to advance the relationship between our nations’ people — anchored to human rights, diversity and the rule of law.”

Modi responded four days later, saying he looks forward to working with Canada “based on mutual understanding and respect for each others’ concerns.”

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.