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Pro-Khalistan rallies raise concerns over rising Extremism

Nations with large Indian diaspora need to tread a delicate balance as Khalistan movement gains momentum

July 15, 2023 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By Twitter / Pohir
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army



Pro-Khalistan rallies outside Indian missions in London, Toronto, San Francisco and Melbourne on July 8, 2023 passed off peacefully without any violence. However, the Bharat Mata temple in Brampton in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was desecrated with a pro-Khalistan poster featuring the images of India’s High Commissioner in Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma, Consul General in Toronto Apoorva Srivastava and Consul General in Vancouver Manish. Similar posters also appeared at various other locations in the GTA. A few days before, posters by the Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) with ‘Kill India’ and ‘Shaheed Nijjar’ written in bold letters, targeting Indian diplomats, and calling for the Khalistan rally on July 8 had appeared in Canada.

There have been a number of instances of Khalistani activism abroad in recent months. Just days after three Hindu temples were vandalised in Australia; five persons were injured when Indians were attacked by pro-Khalistan elements in January 2023. On March 19, 2023, pro-Khalistan activists took down India’s national flag from the Indian High Commission in London. In addition, the UK has been witnessing anti-India rallies and posters. On July 2, 2023, the Indian Consulate in San Francisco was set ablaze by a group of Khalistani radicals for the second time in five months. The US State Department spokesperson merely tweeted that the US strongly condemned the vandalism and attempted arson, calling it a criminal offense.

Pro-Khalistan rallies outside Indian missions in London, Toronto, San Francisco, and Melbourne were conducted on July 8, 2023, despite previous concerns about violence

India has been lodging strong protests against these incidents, as a consequence of which the Khalistani rallies passed off peacefully on July 8, with rains also perhaps limiting the participation. Slamming the pro-Khalistan poster labeling Indian diplomats as ‘killers”, Indian-origin Canadian MP Chandra Arya has warned that snakes in Canada’s backyard are “raising their heads and hissing”, in an apparent reference to the rising Khalistani menace in the country. But it is not possible that intelligence agencies of these countries did not have prior information about the plans of SFJ.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a Khalistan supporter having Khalistan sympathizers in his cabinet. The UK may have an Indian-origin Prime Minister in Rishi Sunak but he goes by the large number Pakistan-origin politicians and voters who all support the SFJ. The CIA would have known what the SFJ planned but America’s policy includes keeping India under pressure and the other members of the Anglo-Saxon Front like Canada, Britain and Australia keep falling over each other to please Washington.

On July 14, 2023, a group of Khalistani supporters, shouting ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ slogans, seriously injured an Indian International Student in Sydney’s western suburb of Merrylands in Australia. The 23-year-old was allegedly kicked, punched, and hit with the metal rod repeatedly. Australian police called paramedics and he was taken to Hospital with serious injuries to his head, leg, and arm.

Incidents of Khalistani activism abroad, such as attacks on Indian diplomats, vandalising of Indian missions, and recent injuries to an Indian student in Sydney, have raised international concerns about the movement's transformation into extremism

The Khalistan movement has transformed more into power, drugs, terrorism and taking control of the Gurudwaras, much akin to gang warfare and the like. There is surprise in some quarters as to why would the US encourage Khalistanis when it is cozying up to India in the best possible fashion? But then we haven’t really studied the American way of functioning. Witness how Europe continues to be backstabbed by the US through the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia’s energy exports.

Going by the history of cooperation between the CIA, MI6 and the ISI and covert operations undertaken by them, it is not too difficult to decipher that they are responsible for the killings of Khalistan activities and leaders abroad. It is part of the basic strategy for such covert operations; to create more hatred against India through these killings, as also to encourage more volunteers for recruitment by the SFJ, while Canada remains the major hatchery-cum-breeding centre of Khalistanis.

As for Kahalistani killings in Pakistan, the ISI has experienced the spurt of Baloch nationalism as fallout from the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti. The ISI would like to attempt the same in India by attributing the killings of Khalistanis in Pakistan to Indian intelligence. But then wouldn’t the Indian intelligence have given preference to kill Pakistani terrorists and prepartors responsible for terrorist attacks in India plus the likes of Dawood Ibrahim?

Nations like Canada, the UK, and the US with Indian-origin leaders face challenges in balancing diplomatic relations with India while addressing the activities of Khalistan supporters within their territories.

Finally, despite India doing its best to have good relations with Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, these Khalistanis, who are NOT citizens of India any more, are raising the issue of Khalistan and damaging Indian embassies and consulates abroad. So if these countries are allowing the Khalistanis to do so by design or default, let them then create Khalistan in these very countries where they have now settled. At the same time, we must incorporate tough measures to ensure security of all our diplomats posted abroad.