Foreign-based pro-Khalistani sympathisers, including those from the nine separatist outfits active in Canada, have been found involved in terrorist activities in India and indulging in arms and drugs smuggling, intelligence officials said, in the backdrop of Canada’s allegations about Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
The 43-odd separatists and criminals based in Canada are also allegedly engaged in smuggling of terrorist hardware, including arms, ammunition, explosives, and custom-made ready-to-use IEDs, along with other types of contraband, including drugs, from across the border. The NIA has also issued a list of 43 Indians allegedly using Canadian soil for anti-Indian activities and politically-condoned hate crimes.
Intelligence officials said Canada has not been cooperative on the front of deporting some of the separatists suspected to be working against India at the behest of Pakistan. New Delhi’s deportation requests that were ignored by Ottawa pertained to operatives of organisations like Babbar Khalsa International, World Sikh Organisation, Sikhs for Justice and Khalistan Tiger Force.
The Indian government has already dismissed PM Trudeau’s remarks on Nijjar’s killing as “absurd and motivated” and warned Indian citizens in that country to avoid areas where the pro-Khalistani activists are active. Even the Five Eyes intelligence alliance—which includes democratic English-speaking nations like the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada—has rejected Ottawa’s request to criticise Nijjar’s murder.
Ambassador Vishnu Prakash, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Canada, described as preposterous the allegations made by Canada that India is behind the killing of radical Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. He believes the wild allegations against India appeared to be a bid to shift focus from the separatists’ activities on Canadian soil. Ambassador Prakash was posted in Canada when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited that country in 2015.
Canada and India have expelled a senior diplomat each after a row erupted over the killing of Nijjar in June in Canada. Nijjar was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey on 18 June. The killing was followed by a statement by PM Justin Trudeau in Parliament that there were allegations of a “potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing.
In a rare gesture, the Canadian government named the expelled Indian diplomat, raising doubts about an attempt to draw global attention to the entire episode. Another former ambassador said, “Normally, the language and terms used in such cases is in the form of a request that a particular official be ‘withdrawn’.”
O.P.S Malik, IPS, UP, retired-DG of police, said, “One disturbing aspect is the bravado going on in social media wherein the identity of the expelled Indian diplomat has been a matter of much discussion. Such media publicity is injurious to covert operations. First principle of any covert intelligence operation is always a plausible deniability.”
Intelligence officials pointed out Nijjar, 46, had landed in Canada with fake papers and an assumed name Ravi Sharma. He later sought asylum, claiming persecution by the Indian government. As KTF chief, Nijjar oversaw the radicalisation of young recruits and arranged the funds for terror strikes.
The Interpol had issued a red notice against Nijjar in 2016 and the NIA had declared a Rs 10-lakh bounty on his head in 2022. Meanwhile, stepping up its action against separatists, NIA has announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh each for information leading to the arrest of “listed terrorist” Harwinder Singh Sandhu @ Rinda, and Lakhbir Singh Sandhu @ Landa, for promoting terror activities of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) in India.
A cash reward of Rs 5 lakh each has also been declared by the NIA for information on three associates of these terrorists, namely Parminder Singh Kaira @ Pattu, Satnam Singh @ Satbir Singh @ Satta and Yadvinder Singh @ Yadda.
NIA is investigating the terror activities of chiefs/members of proscribed pro-Khalistan terrorist organisations, such as the BKI, Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), etc. It had registered a suo moto case on August 2022 and has, since then, initiated several actions to nab the terrorists and foil their terrorist and secessionist anti-India designs.
According to NIA, Landa and other foreign-based pro-Khalistani terrorists have been found to be engaged in smuggling of terrorist hardware, including arms, ammunition, explosives, and custom-made ready-to-use IEDs, along with other types of contraband, including drugs, from across the border. They are also involved in carrying out terrorist activities in India.