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Is Khalistan sentiment an offshoot of Pakistan’s anti-India agenda?

ANM Correspondent

It certainly leaves many wondering that when Khalistanis want to break India and create a separate province for the Sikhs, why aren’t they including West Punjab, which conveniently falls in Pakistan territory?

More than two weeks after the ‘credible allegation’ statement on India’s involvement in the murder of wanted terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in the House of Commons by Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, no evidence has been provided. While India has vehemently denied its involvement, it has agreed to fully cooperate if evidence is given.

While Canada and India weighs their diplomatic options with measured official parlance many national TV media in India have sort of waged a war alleging Canadian government for kid-glove treatment to Khalistan sympathisers. Hyperbolic TV debates in the name of ‘exclusive news’ are not even shying in resorting to unethical journalistic practising of distorting the facts and spreading misinformation just to invoke the ‘nationalistic’ sentiment and increasing TRPs.

As Indian television media is busy and happy raking moolah by indulging into sensationalism, it is pertinent to discuss why issue of khalistan is still alive in Canada, US, UK, Australia while it had died down long back in Punjab, the place of its origin in India.

Why no action has been taken despite repeated warnings by India and requests since the last few years to extradite the wanted terrorists living in these countries even though India shares an extrdition treaties with these countries?

Asian News makers spoke to Abhinav Pandya, founder and CEO of Usanas Foundation-an India-based geopolitical and security affairs think-tank, in detail on the recent events. Usanas foundation engages in a range of activities to produce an unbiased and cross-disciplinary analysis of global events. Their approach is realistic and sensible, making way for a nuanced understanding of a diverse range of factors shaping global events and decision-making. Their mission is to support governments, scholars, journalists, and businesses in building a multi-dimensional, cross-disciplinary understanding of international affairs while making informed decisions.

Khalistan Issue and Pakistan Factor!

According to Abhinam Pandya, “To understand the Khalistan issue, we have to first comprehend the philosophical aspect of Hindu-Sikh relations going back to history. For time immemorial, the two communities’ lives have been intertwined. There are many Hindus who go to temples and even Gurdwaras and vice versa. In fact, Sikhism is considered to be an offshoot of Hinduism and Guru Granth Sahib is revered by all.

If that is the case, how did this amity between the two communities break? Abhinav points the finger directly at Pakistan claiming that Pakistan’s ISI has a wider footprint that has manifested in their strategy, tactics, advocacy, information war and operational matters of terrorist activities in India. “Pakistan for decades has been trying to manipulate Western societies and spreading false anti India propaganda and unfortunately, Justin Trudeau got played by the extremists, thanks to Jagmeet Singh, on whose party depends Trudeau’s survival. Pakistan has been spreading its agenda since the 80s and 90s and their movement was crushed with an iron hand by India. Why did not the West condemn the killings of thousands of Hindus in Punjab and Haryana back then?” Abhinav’s article on Decoding Khalistan on the Usanas webpage reads, “Allegedly, Pakistan army’s Lt. Col Shahid Mohammad Malhi is the key architect of Referendum 2020, named as “Operation Express” by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Borrowing ISI’s playbook, Khalistani groups like SFJ and many others masquerade as human rights organisations, seeking legitimacy in the Western world, which puts a premium on freedom of expression. Further, like ISI proxies, the Khalistani groups use many aliases to create smokescreens. Canada’s McDonald Laurier Institute and the US’ Hudson Institute have produced detailed reports on Khalistani connections with Pakistan. Notably, Khalistan’s map as shown in the McDonald report, does not include Pakistani Punjab.”

It certainly leaves many wondering that when Khalistanis want to break India and create a separate province for the Sikhs, why aren’t they including West Punjab, which conveniently falls in Pakistan territory? Just this question can allude to Pakistan’s involvement in the issue, directly implicating Pakistan. A dumbest politician can see Pakistan’s hand and agenda. Says Abhinav, “This is the same West which criticises the killing of Nijjar, a wanted terrorist, yet fails to condemn the killings of Sikhs in Afghanistan and almost daily abduction of young Sikh girls in Pakistan to be married to old Muslim men. Actually, Gopal Chawla, who is an ardent Kahalistani supporter, has been seen with the chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba just recently. Nijjar was a wanted terrorist, training people in Birmingham and other places.” Videos of Nijjar training terrorists and flaunting ISI sponsored weapons are widely available on the world wide web for anyone to see.

Does Economy plays a role in raking Khalistan sentiments on foreign land?

In an attempt to understand the modus operandi of the Khalistani elements, Usanas Foundation interviewed members of the Sikh diaspora in Canada and the UK and some Sikh community leaders. Quoting from the article, “In the interviews with members of the Sikh diaspora in the UK and Canada, the interlocutors informed that an overwhelmingly large number of Khalistani activists and supporters are from a lower socio-economic background with poor literacy levels, and are engaged in petty jobs. Many of them have taken asylum in Western countries and several of them are illegal immigrants. To prolong their stay and justify their case for asylum, they argue that their lives, liberty, and human rights are under threat in India. Such emotionally charged and rhetorical slandering and condemnation strengthen their case for seeking asylum or permanent residence.” In Canada Hardeep Singh Nijjar is known to be working as a plumber while his flamboyant lifestyle left many wondering about his source of income.

It is a known fact that Gurdwaras in the West, hold massive control over not only funds but power on the community. Says Abhinav, “For Sikhs, going to Gurdwara for all rituals whether it is wedding or religious rituals and even social gatherings, is an important part of their lives. Gurdwaras charge hefty sums of money from devotees for solemnising a wedding and seek other donations from the community for welfare of the community and eventually divert that money into extremist and subversive activities.” A devotee, trying to scout for a Gurdwara for her daughter’s wedding in the Vancouver area said, “These Gurdwaras are heavily booked for at least a year and they are charging $10,000-12,000 for the events. For a single mother like me, this is a hefty sum. But what can I do? I want my daughter married in my religious manner.”

Is Khalistan issue a political tool in foreign land?

Abhinav believes that Trudeau’s statement without credible evidence, accusing India of interfering in Canada’s internal affairs and calling Nijjar’s inciting speeches against India as ‘right to freedom of expression’ yet he did not refrain from condemning India on the farmer’s agitation last year, is inexplainable “When it came to freedom of expression within his own country when Canadians agitated against Covid mandate, he invoked the Emergency Act. Isn’t this double speak? On the one hand he says India is the largest democracy in the world and wants to maintain amicable relations between the two countries, yet levels baseless allegations against India. 

Abhinav also came down heavily on America for condemning India for the extra territorial killing. “America is the daddy of extra territorial killings and has been indulging in these tactics for time immemorial. America and Canada need India more than India needs them to challenge China’s growing power in the region. While America slept, China infiltrated the West in a manner that today Chinese agencies have made strong penetration in the government institutions. civil society, economy, local government and policies.

 They have been doing that for decades. India is the only country that can challenge China as well as help the West understand the Chinese strategic mindset as they have more than seven decades of experience of dealing with China. Today I wonder, is the Khalistanis or the Chinese running Canadian government. Is this country up for sale?”

It was in June this year that US House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green warned of Chinese migrants illegally crossing the southern border in the US. An intelligence report from Border Patrol Chief warned of 393 per cent increase in illegal Chinese migrants with 9711 encounters between October 2022 and April this year. These people were eventually released into the US under the Biden administration and are known to be connected to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s People’s Liberation Army. “In terms of the verification that the individuals released into the United States have ties to the PLA came from a sector chief and I’ll leave it with that at this point. We have a classified briefing coming up in the very near future,” Green said. Recently, 4366 Chinese, believed to be spies, have been caught trying to sneak into the US, leaving everyone wondering as to the Chinese agenda.

Nijjar died due to internal rivalries between the gangs run by the Khalistanis. Says Pandya, “Gangsters flee from India, make their base in Canada, and continue their nefarious activities. Nijjar was hands in glove with the gangsters. We know that Ajaib Singh Bagri was involved in the killing of Tara Singh Hayer, who overheard Bagri planning the twin Air India bombing killing 331 people. Even now he is roaming freely.

Just two days back, he was seen with Pannun. That is the kind of support these terrorists are getting in Canada. “

Today, Indians are angry at Canada and the West for not only harboring terrorists but allowing these gangsters to commit crimes in India. Says Pandya, “Believe you me. When I say that, I speak the mindset of the common man. This is not my personal opinion. I speak for a billion people and reflecting the mindset of the common man. At Usanas foundation, we regularly invite people for seminars and conferences, experts and journalists, security agencies and strategic planners. The West has to understand that India under Prime Minister Modi, is not the same. It is now very strong and its foreign policy has changed. It has become assertive to foreign domination. Certain underlying racism from the West will no longer be tolerated. Come next year, after the 2024 elections when Modi is certainly to come back, India will emerge stronger.”

As of now, India is trying to crush not only Khalistani supporters but also all kind of extremism in the East or even Kashmir. Many of Khalistani supporters’ properties have been seized in Punjab, including Panuun’s and others and Trudeau’s statement further pushed the Indian government to act quickly, strongly and forcibly. India is watching as the West and anti-India lobbies, soft peddle the separatists on their grounds. It cannot be denied that the rising India is too dogmatic to be ignored by the West but a force to reckon with.

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