WSO Commends PM Trudeau for Calling out Indian Interference

Ottawa (September 11, 2023):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with respect to foreign interference and respect for the rule of law during G20 meetings in New Delhi, India. 

Prime Minister Trudeau said in a press conference that "Diaspora Canadians make up a huge proportion of our country, and they should be able to express themselves and make their choices without interference from any of the many countries that we know are involved in interference challenges."

Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed that he spoke with Indian PM Modi on the issue of foreign importance and respect for the rule of law, the integrity and sovereignty and democratic institutions and the ability of citizens of a country to choose their future. 

India has been identified by the current National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister as a top source of foreign interference in Canada. Sikhs in Canada have long reported alarming foreign interference over the past several decades. 

In the Spring of 1987, several Indian diplomats were identified by CSIS as misusing their diplomatic cover to engage in Indian intelligence activities and asked to leave by Canadian authorities. 

One of the diplomats identified was Maloy Krishna Dhar, a former Joint Director and a 29-year veteran of the Indian Intelligence Bureau.  Dhar was in Ottawa on a diplomatic posting from 1983-87.  He writes in his memoir “Open Secrets” that his mission was to “penetrate select Gurdwaras”, create assets in the Sikh community and also to generate “a few friends amongst the Canadian Members of Parliament” (page 293). 

In recent years, India has continued to target Canada. The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians in its special report into Prime Minister Trudeau’s 2018 trip to India noted that:

“strategically released” media articles prior to the Prime Minister’s visit and Indian officials’ repeated raising of concerns around Sikh extremism and separatism, even after multiple efforts by Canadian officials, including the NSIA [National Security and Intelligence Advisor], to refute those claims, fit the pattern that the NSIA now saw emerging: an orchestrated attempt to ‘shine a spotlight’ on Mr. Atwal’s invitation in order to embarrass the Canadian Government.

In April 2020, a report published by Global News revealed that since 2009, Indian intelligence agencies used an Indian news reporter based in Canada in an attempt to “use money and disinformation to ‘covertly influence Canadian politicians”. 

Most recently, in June 2023, the WSO called on Canadian intelligence and law enforcement to fully investigate the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, including the role of foreign interference, specifically from India.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was assassinated in a targeted shooting in the parking lot of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey BC.  Nijjar was the gurdwara's president and an outspoken supporter of Khalistan.  He often led protests against the violation of human rights in India and in support of Khalistan.  

The Government of India’s National Intelligence Agency had placed a bounty of one million rupees for his capture in July 2022.  Nijjar had publicly spoken of the threat to his life for months and said that he would be targeted by Indian intelligence agencies. 

WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu said today,

“ We thank and commend Prime Minister Trudeau for raising the issue of foreign interference with India and defending the rights of Canadians to engage in peaceful advocacy and exercise their right to freedom of speech. 

India has engaged in espionage and interference activities targeting Sikhs in Canada for decades.  Advocating for Khalistan and against human rights abuses in India is not illegal in Canada and despite India’s claims, is not extremism.  India has repeatedly tried to link increased trade ties with Canada to its demands that Canada suppress Sikh activism and advocacy.

We are heartened to see Prime Minister Trudeau take a strong and principled position in support of human rights and Canadian values.  We are hopeful that the Government of Canada will investigate and expose Indian interference in this country and take steps to safeguard the rights of Canadian Sikhs.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights of all individuals. 

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  • Balpreet Singh
    published this page in Press Releases 2023-09-11 18:25:02 -0400