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.
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