Canadian Sikh's Murder: How Long Will Modi Continue to Escape Accountability?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused the Indian government of involvement in the murder of a Canadian Sikh leader on Canadian soil. Trudeau announced this week that Canada was "actively pursuing credible allegations" that Indian intelligence agents had potentially been involved in the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, 2023. Canada, a member of the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance with Australia, New Zealand, UK and the US, is reported to have shared intelligence on the incident with Washington.  The US and UK say they are "deeply concerned" and encourage Indian officials to cooperate in any investigation. There have been similar "mysterious" assassinations of Sikh leaders in Pakistan and the UK this year. Can the West afford to ignore these assassinations? Will Modi government be emboldened to continue its campaign of murder of more leaders of the significant Sikh diaspora in the West if the US fails to hold Modi to account now? 

Three Sikh Leaders Assassinated in 2023

Since the 2020-21 farmers' protests in Delhi, the Sikh diaspora has staged massive rallies at Indian diplomatic missions across western capitals. These rallies were followed by systematic, and near-simultaneous, killings of various Sikh leaders in Canada, Pakistan and UK. On May 6, 2023, Paramjit Singh Panwar was killed in Lahore, Pakistan. Avtar Singh Khanda was assassinated in Birmingham, England. on June 11. On June 18, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was murdered in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. 

Reacting to the report of Trudeau's allegation against the Indian government, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi said: “We are aware of the nature of our eastern neighbor, we know what they are capable of … so it is not a surprise for us. “We caught [one of their] serving naval intelligence officers on our soil. He (Kulbhushan Jadhav) is in our custody and admitted that he came here to create instability and spread evil,” he added. 

Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said her country remained a “target of a series of targeted killings and espionage by (Indian Intelligence Agency) RAW".  “In December last year, Pakistan released a comprehensive dossier providing concrete and irrefutable evidence of India’s involvement in the Lahore attack of June 2021. The attack was planned and executed by Indian intelligence,” she said, adding that in 2016, a high-ranking Indian military officer Kulbhushan Jadhav confessed to his involvement in directing, financing and executing terror and sabotage in Pakistan.

Narendra Modi has a long history of murdering minorities in his country. After the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, Narendra Modi made the cover of India Today magazine with the caption "Hero of Hatred". Modi was denied a visa to visit the United States.  The US visa ban on Modi was lifted in 2014 after he became prime minister. Since then,  Narendra Modi's image has been rehabilitated by the West as the US and Western Europe seek allies in Asia to counter the rise of China.  However, Modi's actions on the ground in India confirm that he remains "Hero of Hatred" and "Divider In Chief" at his core.  A recent two-part BBC documentary explains this reality in significant detail. The first part focuses on the 2002 events in Gujarat when Modi as the state chief minister ordered the police to not stop the Hindu mobs murdering Muslims and burning their homes and businesses.  The second part looks at Modi government's anti-Muslim policies, including the revocation of Kashmir's autonomy (article 370) and a new citizenship law (CAA 2019) that discriminates against Muslims. It shows the violent response by security forces to peaceful protests against the new laws, and interviews the family members of people who were killed in the 2020 Delhi riots orchestrated by Modi's allies. 

Having been caught by Ottawa in the act of murdering one of its citizens, the Indian government has reacted angrily, calling the Canadian allegations "absurd". In fact, India has labeled victims of assassination campaign "terrorists".  The Indian response will only force Canada to publicly share evidence of wrongdoing by New Delhi. Such public disclosures will expose India's links to similar recent "mysterious" murders in Pakistan and the UK.  It will also force London and Washington to confront the issue because the UK and the US also have hundreds of thousands of Sikh citizens whose leaders will be vulnerable to potential assassinations by the Modi government. 

Here's Indian National Security Advisor on how to use Taliban to attack Pakistan:

https://youtu.be/eYRuk8H5M9E?si=ZB1c7Dd8ntQdKeFi

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 21, 2023 at 6:48pm

Canada has Indian diplomats' communications in bombshell murder probe: sources | CBC News

The Canadian government has amassed both human and signals intelligence in a months-long investigation of a Sikh activist's death that has inflamed relations with India, sources tell CBC News.

That intelligence includes communications involving Indian officials themselves, including Indian diplomats present in Canada, say Canadian government sources.

The intelligence did not come solely from Canada. Some was provided by an unnamed ally in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.

In a diplomatic crisis that unfolded progressively behind the scenes, Canadian officials went to India on several occasions seeking co-operation in the investigation of Hardeep Singh Nijjar's death.

The Sikh leader was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, B.C., on June 18 and reportedly had been warned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that he was at risk.

Canada's National Security and Intelligence Adviser Jody Thomas was in India over four days in mid-August, then again for five days this month.

That last visit overlapped with a tense meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Canadian sources say that, when pressed behind closed doors, no Indian official has denied the bombshell allegation at the core of this case — that there is evidence to suggest Indian government involvement in the assassination of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.

"I can assure you that the decision to share these allegations on the floor of the House of Commons … was not done lightly," Trudeau said Thursday in New York after attending the United Nations General Assembly.

"It was done with the utmost seriousness."

The Canadian government has not released its evidence and has suggested it could emerge during an eventual legal process.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 7:27am

Sullivan said he disagreed with reports suggesting there was distance between Canada and the United States on the issue.

https://www.reuters.com/world/biden-national-security-adviser-says-...

"I firmly reject the idea that there is a wedge between the U.S. and Canada. We have deep concerns about the allegations and we would like to see this investigation carried forward and the perpetrators held to account," he said.


----------

Asked whether U.S. concern over the incident could disrupt that process, Sullivan said the United States would stand up for its principles, regardless of what country is affected.

"It is a matter of concern for us. It is something we take seriously. It is something we will keep working on, and we will do that regardless of the country," Sullivan told reporters at the White House.

"There's not some special exemption you get for actions like this. Regardless of the country, we will stand up and defend our basic principles and we will also consult closely with allies like Canada as they pursue their law enforcement and diplomatic process."

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 11:09am

The Killing in Canada Shows What India Has Become - The Atlantic


The government in New Delhi may well be the sort that will do anything to silence dissent.

By Daniel Block


https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2023/09/canada-ni...

On September 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood before his country’s Parliament and leveled a dramatic charge: Ottawa had “credible evidence” that the Indian government had assassinated a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. The citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, had been gunned down outside the Sikh temple where he served as president. Trudeau declared the killing “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty” and “contrary to the fundamental rules by which free, open, and democratic societies conduct themselves.”

The prime minister’s claim made headlines around the planet, but it shouldn’t have been altogether surprising. Nijjar was a prominent activist who called for Sikhs—a religious group mostly concentrated in northern India—to break away from New Delhi and form an independent nation. As a result, New Delhi had labeled him a terrorist. The Indian government has denied involvement in the killing, but under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it has become illiberal at home and bellicose abroad, such that assassinations on foreign soil are no longer an unimaginable part of its agenda.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 11:10am

Rift With Canada Puts Spotlight on India’s Security Services
Trudeau’s accusations suggest New Delhi’s intelligence operatives could lead it down a dark path.
By Sushant Singh, a lecturer at Yale University and a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in India.


https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/09/22/india-canada-trudeau-accusatio...


When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week accused the Indian government of involvement in the fatal shooting of a Canadian Sikh activist, it was perhaps the first time a liberal, Western democracy had made such a claim about New Delhi. Trudeau was backed by the Canadian opposition leader, Pierre Poilievre, who called the alleged actions an “outrageous affront” to Canadian sovereignty. India has rejected the accusations, but on Tuesday, Trudeau doubled down: “We are not looking to provoke or escalate. We are simply laying out the facts as we understand them,” he said.

Earlier this month, senior Canadian intelligence officials visited India before the G-20 summit in New Delhi to share the evidence they had gathered about the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. Trudeau raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting on the sidelines of the summit. Afterward, New Delhi issued a brusque statement noting its concerns about “continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada.” That likely gave Trudeau a sense about how India intended to treat the allegations once they were made public.

This week, Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat, Pavan Kumar Rai, who represented India’s foreign intelligence agency in Ottawa. In response, India threw out the head of intelligence at Canada’s embassy in New Delhi. On Thursday, India suspended visa services for Canadian citizens until further notice, marking a serious escalation in the clash.

India and Canada’s shared values and people-to-people ties should make them natural partners, but that has not been the case under Modi and Trudeau. Bilateral relations have been frayed for some time, in part because India believes that Canada has been sympathetic toward the Sikh separatist movement, while Canada has said India was interfering in its domestic politics. Trudeau’s allegations this week caused the two countries to reach a breaking point. Anticipating the geopolitical effects, Trudeau briefed Canada’s closest allies about the case before his announcement, including the leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom. The two countries issued a statement of concern about the incident.

In New Delhi, concerns about the return of Sikh separatism have long fed insecurities about India’s sovereignty, and those anxieties have grown under Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Hindu nationalist regime. Modi’s top security czar is a former intelligence chief, Ajit Doval, who led a successful campaign against violent Sikh separatists in the 1980s. Canadian Sikh support for the 2020 farmers’ protests against Modi’s government no doubt stoked Doval’s own fears. Many of the demonstrators were Sikhs. India’s security establishment has allegedly violated international law in a few high-profile cases abroad. None have taken place in a country like Canada, a treaty ally of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Trudeau’s allegations could help Modi domestically by feeding into a nationalist narrative that takes pride in him as a strong leader, but wasting diplomatic energy containing the fallout of this fracas will only distract India from other major challenges—namely the one posed by its rival China. If India continues to look at the world through the lens of its intelligence operatives rather than holding them accountable for their failures, it runs the risk of going down a very dark path.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 11:11am

Trudeau’s accusations suggest New Delhi’s intelligence operatives could lead it down a dark path.


https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/09/22/india-canada-trudeau-accusatio...

By Sushant Singh, a lecturer at Yale University and a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in India.

Simmering tensions between India and Canada had already come to the fore before Trudeau’s public accusations. At a press conference in New Delhi in June, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said, “If anybody has a complaint, we have a complaint about Canada … the space they are giving to Khalistanis and violent extremists.” A few days later, he added that New Delhi had made it clear that if activities in Canada threatened Indian national security “we will respond.” This veiled threat came 10 days after Nijjar was shot dead as he left the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia.

At the time, Nijjar’s name was relatively unknown in India or Canada. He moved to Canada from India’s Sikh-majority state of Punjab in 1997 and became president of the religious body that runs the Sikh gurdwara in Surrey in 2020. That November, India declared Nijjar a terrorist. Its federal counterterrorism agency accused him of trying to radicalize the Sikh diaspora in the service of creating an independent Sikh state known as Khalistan. In India, Sikh separatism peaked in the 1980s, losing steam after Indian security forces crushed a violent insurgency, which was supported by Pakistan. In Punjab, the movement no longer has a support base, although New Delhi occasionally hypes it as a threat.

A vocal backer of Khalistan, Nijjar upset India’s government last fall when he organized a campaign in Brampton, Ontario, to hold a symbolic referendum on the Khalistan issue. Canadian laws do not prohibit nonviolent support for Sikh separatism, while India has wide-ranging laws on sedition and against terror that make it very difficult. In India, the ideology of the BJP’s parent organization also considers Sikhs to be Hindus—an assertion rejected by Sikh leaders, whose community has politically opposed and democratically defeated Modi’s party in Punjab. To explain why Sikhs oppose the ruling party, India’s regime has turned the pro-Khalistan movement as a bogeyman.



India’s security establishment, meanwhile, is still grappling with the memory of the long-dead pro-Khalistan insurgency. Doval, whose career highlight was leading security operations against Sikh separatists in the 1980s, still harbors apprehensions about their revival. The external response to the monthslong farmers’ protests in 2020 has shaped India’s attitude toward Canada and the United Kingdom: that they are soft toward Sikh separatists. BJP leaders tried to discredit the protesting farmers as pro-Khalistan activists. When the Canadian government issued a statement against some of the harsh policing against the farmers, New Delhi accused Ottawa of meddling in its internal affairs.

Aside from Nijjar, three other prominent Sikh separatist activists have died under mysterious circumstances abroad this year: Avtar Singh Khanda in the United Kingdom and Paramjit Singh Panjwar and Harmeet Singh in Pakistan. Sikh separatist groups allege that Indian intelligence operatives were responsible for their deaths. Under Doval, the security establishment has recently been in the spotlight over two high-profile cases. The first was the capture and rendition of Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, by Indian special forces off the coast of Goa in March 2018, returning her to her family against her will. The second the attempted abduction of fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi in Antigua in May 2021.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 11:11am

Trudeau’s accusations suggest New Delhi’s intelligence operatives could lead it down a dark path.


https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/09/22/india-canada-trudeau-accusatio...

By Sushant Singh, a lecturer at Yale University and a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in India.



Modi’s party has decried previous governments for making India a “soft state” and for not emulating the example of Israel—or its imagination of the country—of taking the war to the adversary through spectacular covert action abroad. It is not clear if the mythology of the Mossad, Israel’s successful and infamously ruthless national intelligence agency, is driving Indian action today, but many Hindu nationalists have framed these alleged actions as evidence of a strong state under Modi. Perhaps they forget that Israel undertakes such operations in countries such as Iran, which have little international credibility and few allies. By contrast, Canada is a member of the G-7, a NATO founder, and part of the exclusive Five Eyes intelligence alliance.

Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States each issued dutiful statements of concern over Trudeau’s recent allegations. However, India’s importance as a partner in countering China in the Indo-Pacific means that these other Western countries will remain soft on Modi. Despite mounting criticism, the Biden administration has overlooked credible evidence of democratic backsliding and poor treatment of religious minorities under BJP rule under Modi. The United States has decided that its convergent interests with India against China take precedence over its professed values. When it comes to Trudeau’s allegations, those interests are bound to trump the United States’ shared values with Canada.

India and Canada share historical ties dating to India’s colonial era. Canada is home to one of the largest diasporas of Indian heritage in the world, at nearly 1.4 million, and is India’s second-biggest overseas study destination. Sikhs now form a larger share of Canada’s national population (2.1 percent) than India’s (1.7 percent). If the two countries have reached a new low in their relationship, it is because India has changed its direction under Modi, whose vision of a Hindu majoritarian state has emboldened nationalists abroad.

In Australia, Queensland state police released documents this week that suggest that Hindus defaced a Hindu temple wall to divert attention toward pro-Khalistan activists. Last year, riots against Muslims in Leicester, England, were blamed on right-wing Hindu nationalist groups. An Indian government statement condemned the “violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalization of premises and symbols of Hindu religion” without acknowledging violence against Muslims. According to a U.S. lawsuit, a Hindu sect closely associated with Modi trafficked workers from India and forced them into labor at Hindu temples in five U.S. states.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 11:12am

Trudeau’s accusations suggest New Delhi’s intelligence operatives could lead it down a dark path.


https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/09/22/india-canada-trudeau-accusatio...

By Sushant Singh, a lecturer at Yale University and a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in India.


In hushed tones and classified documents, Canadian officials have also complained of Hindu nationalist overreach. A 2018 report prepared for Canadian deputy ministers attending a national security retreat warned that Indian Canadians were among those at risk of “being influenced, overtly or covertly, by foreign governments with their own agendas.” Canada’s Sikh community forms part of the senior leadership of every political party. Sikhs in Canada have historically supported Trudeau’s Liberal Party, and the prime minister’s minority government now survives on the support of the New Democratic Party, headed by Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh. In 2013, India denied a visa to Singh in 2013 for pursuing an “insidious agenda of disturbing the social fabric of India.” New Delhi also sees Trudeau himself as soft on Sikh separatists because of his continuing focus on catering to their grievances.

Domestic politics in India play an equally important role in shaping New Delhi’s stance toward Ottawa, as Modi’s government heads into a national election next year. The Indian leader has always campaigned on a tough national security agenda, and Trudeau’s allegations could favor his strongman image. If so, the diplomatic effort spent containing the fallout of the accusations—while it would be better used to deal with China—would be a small price to pay for Modi.

However, intelligence agencies and operatives have an important role in ensuring a country’s national security. India’s have made tragic blunders in recent years, failing to warn about China’s sudden ingress into Indian territory in 2020 and failing to prevent a suicide bomber from killing 40 security personnel in 2019. It is high time they are held accountable for these failures. India can no longer approach the world through the eyes of its intelligence agents. Not changing course could be more costly and consequential than the kerfuffle with Canada.

In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin remains the only leader known to order an assassination in a Western democracy, when Russian operatives fatally poisoned a Russian defector in London in 2018. Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were allegedly behind the mysterious killings of Baloch separatist leaders in Sweden and Canada in 2020. Canada has not made its evidence public, but it has brought unwanted attention to India’s audacious approach toward its foes. Whatever the predilections of India’s security establishment, Modi cannot afford to be seen in the same league as Putin and Pakistan’s rogue generals—certainly not as he proclaims India to be a Vishwaguru, or a teacher-master to the world.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 22, 2023 at 4:26pm

Ashok Swain
@ashoswai
India stops processing visa for Canadians!
In 2022, 80000 Canadians (mostly Indian origin) visited India as tourists.
On the other hand, 320,000 Indian students went Canada to study, 118,000 Indians permanently migrated and 60,000 Indians became Canadian citizens in 2022.

https://x.com/ashoswai/status/1704819639530729721?s=20

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 23, 2023 at 7:26pm

Biden raised issue of Canadian Sikh's murder with Modi at G20, Financial Times reports

https://www.reuters.com/world/biden-raised-issue-canadian-sikhs-mur...

Sept 21 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders expressed concern to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit this month about Canadian claims that New Delhi was involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Several members of the Five Eyes — an intelligence-sharing network that includes the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — raised the June killing in British Columbia of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist leader, with Modi, the newspaper said, citing three people familiar with the discussions at the summit.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the FT report.

The summit was held in India days before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made his allegations public in an address to the Canadian parliament earlier this week.

The leaders intervened at the G20 summit after Canada urged its allies to raise the case directly with Modi, the newspaper reported.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier on Thursday that the U.S. is in touch with Indians at high levels following Ottawa's claims about the murder of the Sikh separatist leader in Canada, and Washington is giving India no "special exemption" in the matter.

India has rejected Canada's allegations and called them "absurd." The crisis has put a further dent in Canada-India ties. India on Thursday suspended new visas for Canadians and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country.

The situation has put some Western nations in a tough position as Canada has been a long-standing partner and ally while those countries are also seeking to build strong ties with New Delhi to counter the influence of China in the Asia Pacific region.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 25, 2023 at 10:18am

Dr. Audrey Truschke
@AudreyTruschke
India's disregard for Canadian sovereignty and international norms is bringing additional attention to its steps away from democracy under Modi's leadership.

https://x.com/AudreyTruschke/status/1706077121720848556?s=20

----------------

The Observer view on Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing: Narendra Modi’s hubris is ill-judged
Observer editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/sep/24/the-observer-...

In dismissing concerns over the death of a Canadian Sikh activist, India’s prime minister raises more questions over his commitment to democracy

Political assassination is a practice as old as human society, although the term itself derives from the 12th-century Persian Order of Assassins, first described by Marco Polo. Julius Caesar, Thomas Becket, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Leon Trotsky, John F Kennedy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Olof Palme and Yevgeny Prigozhin were victims of notorious political assassinations. They had one thing in common: all were high-profile targets.

That is not a description that may be accurately applied to Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen shot dead in June by two masked gunmen outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia. If Nijjar had any claim to fame, it was as a campaigner for Khalistan, a notional Sikh homeland in the Indian Punjab fiercely opposed by India’s government. His activism provides the only plausible motive for his murder. Little-known though he was, Nijjar’s death was a political assassination, too.

After failing to obtain a private explanation, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, went public last week, declaring that there were “credible reasons” to believe agents of the Indian government were behind the murder. His statement was immediately rejected by Delhi, which called the allegation “absurd”. That was a poor choice of word. A moment’s reflection should have told the prime minister, Narendra Modi, that it’s a very serious matter indeed.

Although Trudeau did not provide evidence for his claim, he would not have made it, in the formal setting of the Canadian parliament, unless he had firm grounds for believing it to be true. It has emerged that the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network – comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – may have provided Ottawa with incriminating information that allegedly points to the complicity of Indian officials and diplomats in Canada. If so, it would not be the first time India has been implicated in extra-territorial killings.

A less haughty, quicker-thinking figure than Modi would also have understood that Nijjar’s murder, appalling in itself, raised significant matters of state that Trudeau could not ignore. “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau said. After the poisonings by Russian agents in Salisbury, Britain knows how that feels.

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