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Should India consider posting armed contingents to protect missions after Canada, San Francisco attacks?

Pro-Khalistan activities are turning violent especially in Canada, US and UK

The latest eruption of violent activities perpetrated by the Khalistanis are making headlines.   Although the signs of such violent disturbances were in the offing for some time, exhibiting frustration and desperation on part of a section of Sikhs separatists have now come to the fore. Yet, countries like Canada and the US who claim to be technologically advanced with adequate intelligence and security machinery, failed miserably to take any preventive steps to stop the recent violent activities targeting Indian Consulates.

A shameful incident occurred (July 2) when the Indian Consulate in San Francisco was set ablaze by the vandals supporting the cause of Khalistan as well as trying the avenge the alleged killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar who was shot dead (June 18) in Surrey Canada.  More disturbingly, Canada saw series of posters circulated by the Khalistanis carrying anti-India and threats to the lives of India High Commissioner in Canada and its Consul General in Toronto.  The government of Canada under the Premiership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserves severe condemnation for his government’s abject failure to anticipate the threat coming or to prevent it from happening. Experts believe that Canada’s handling of the Khalistani problem has been much below par.  The 1985 Air India Kanishka crash by the Khalistanis and later acquittal of the mastermind of the unfortunate mid-air explosion speaks volumes of the lack of resolve on part of Canada to contain terror which is the foremost challenge before the global fraternity today.

Canada under a politically naïve Prime Minister, who is bereft of any political or diplomatic statecraft, lacks the will to control terror or at least seen to be doing the same to rein in Khalistani activities right at the heart of the Canadian soil. Its intelligence apparatus seems to be in tatters or can it be assumed that Canadian authorities have heeded nothing to numerous intelligence inputs from the Indian Intelligence agencies warning and sensitizing their Canadian counterparts of likely attacks on Indian diplomats or on its Mission?  Same holds good for the US as amply demonstrated in the most recent assault on the Indian Consulate in San Francisco.

As the situation seems to be spiraling out of hand from the Canadian and US security agencies, it appears imperative for the Indian agencies to seriously consider using its diplomatic initiatives in keeping an armed posse of Indian contingent in the potentially vulnerable diplomatic missions/ consulates for their safety and security.  In addition, more vigorous exchanges of hard and preventive intelligence must come to the host countries and the Indian diplomatic missions must ensure that they are acted upon and not just glossed over.  Also, India should consider a quid pro quo action for the Canadian, Australian and US missions in India to ensure that Indian personnel and officers are kept secure from Khalistani attacks.

Amid these happenings one must remember the role of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which clearly has resumed its proactive, anti-India and offensive activities.  These must be operationally neutralized to inflict a visible damage to their nefarious plans to promote Khalistani linked terrorism targeting Indian facilities abroad and in the State of Punjab.

According to a recent report, in a larger conspiracy against India, Khalistani terrorists have now set up an operational base in Portugal.  Also, the ISI has recently facilitated a consignment of illegal weapons from Portugal to active criminals in Punjab. Its operations are already seen in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

The syndicate came to light after a Khalistani terrorist, hailing from Punjab’s Firozpur, was apprehended in Portugal recently. The individual, who was staying in the country on a tourist visa, was found to be in possession of a cache of lethal weapons, including an AK-47, an MP-5 submachine gun, hand grenades and a pistol. It was alleged that the ISI had assigned him the responsibility of delivering these weapons to active criminals in Punjab.

Meanwhile, Indian diplomats in Australia have also received threat calls from the Khalistani extremists in Sydney and Melbourne.  A poster is under circulation on social media by the extremist elements carrying photos of the Indian diplomats calling for avenging the death of Nijjar.  So, we can see a clear pattern by the Khalistani activists apparently working in unison in Canada, the US and Australia.  Knowledgeable sources attribute that such a concerted action combining with propaganda and violence is ordinarily not possible without the support of an intelligence agency like the ISI whose role in propping up the Khalistani concept and wanton killings in the 1980’s, is already known in the public domain.

Further, the UK government declared (July 6) that any direct attacks on the High Commission of India in London are “completely unacceptable” amid anti-India propaganda by Khalistani extremists emerging on social media channels. UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly took to Twitter to declare that the safety of the staff at India’s diplomatic mission in the country was paramount. His intervention follows threats and attacks targeted at Indian diplomatic missions in the US, Australia and Canada and some threatening posters emerging online with images of Indian High Commissioner to the UK and the Consul General of India in Birmingham. There has been a very visible Metropolitan Police security presence at India House in central London since the High Commission building was targeted by Khalistani extremists, who tried to pull down the Indian tricolor in March this year.

A flurry of diplomatic activities between India, Canada and other countries are being noticed and demarches & protests made.  However, these are only diplomatic niceties.  Canada should be seen to be doing more to contain terror and prevent anti-India rallies (proposed for July 8) by the Khalistan is.  Any indifference would clearly mean the host government’s complicity.  If it is not stopped, not only the bilateral ties will be adversely affected but the same home-grown terrorists could also harm Canadian security interests.  Are you listening Mr. Trudeau?

Also Read: India’s strong stance puts Khalistanis on backfoot, ‘kill India’ rallies a flop show