India asks Canada to list separatist outfit Sikhs for Justice as terrorist entity
A spokesperson for Public Safety Canada, the department tasked with such listing, had said the government “does not disclose” what entities are being considered for listing.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has formally requested Canada to declare the organisation Sikhs for Justice a terrorist entity. NIA interacted with their Canadian law enforcement counterparts this week in Ottawa and gave them information and dossiers to back their case against the front.
Hindustan Times has learnt that the request was made earlier this year and the NIA team’s Ottawa visit was meant to substantiate India’s claim that SFJ was fuelling violence in India, particularly in Punjab, as part of its separatist agenda which includes spearheading the Punjab Referendum.
SFJ, through its legal counsel Gurpatwant Pannun, has consistently denied any support to violence while pursuing its cause for a separate Khalistan.
The NIA team was in Ottawa on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP and it also “held additional meetings with the International Crime and Counter-terrorism Bureau of Global Affairs Canada and with senior officials from the International Affairs Division of Public Safety Canada, with a view to deepening and expanding India-Canada collaboration on counter-terrorism and interdiction of global terrorist financing,” according to a release issued by India’s High Commission in Ottawa. It is also believed to have met officials of Canada’s Department of Justice.
The visit, the release said, was “for better coordinating investigation against entities and individuals suspected of terrorism and to discuss other criminal matters”. The NIA team was led by an inspector general of police and it “held detailed discussions with senior RCMP officials to collate evidence on several ongoing investigations into cases of terrorism and other serious crimes in order to bring about successful prosecution of the accused in both India and Canada.”
India’s high commissioner to Ottawa, Ajay Bisaria welcomed the visit and tweeted that the “India-Canada strategic partnership also leads to robust cooperation in investigating crime and terrorism.”
A senior Indian official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the Canadian law enforcement was “very responsive” to India’s concerns during the “comprehensive” discussions and a “few other entities” also figured in the talks.
Responding to queries in this regard from the Hindustan Times last week, a spokesperson for Public Safety Canada, the department tasked with such listing, said the government “does not disclose what entities are being considered for listing. The assessment process for listing entities that support or engage in terrorism is on-going and entities are prioritised for listing based on a number of factors, including Canada’s national security interests.”
He added that in order to be listed, the entity must meet the test of either having “knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity”, or “knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with such an entity.”
While SFJ is headquartered in New York, it remains influential among pro-Khalistan elements in Canada. India banned SFJ last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Public Safety Canada’s currently listed entities includes two Khalistani outfits – Babbar Khalsa International and International Sikh Youth Federation, other than groups like the Taliban, Al Qaida and others such as Boko Haram, Haqqani Network, Hizbul Mujahideen, Indian Mujahideen, Islamic State and its offshoots, Jaish-e-Moahammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, among several others.