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Decisive Action Needed to Check India’s Hostile Activities Targeting the Sikh community – WSO

OTTAWA, CANADA – The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) reviewed the findings of Commissioner Marie-Josee Hogue in the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference’s Initial Report released today, and welcomed the Report’s conclusion that India engages in foreign interference activities in Canada, targeting the Sikh community and that “India directed foreign interference activities related to the 2019 and 2021 general elections.”

The WSO is a member of the “Sikh Coalition” which was granted party standing in the Foreign Interference Commission, along with the BC Gurdwaras Council and the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee.

The report states,  “Indian officials, including Canadian-based proxies, engage in a range of activities that seek to influence Canadian communities and politicians. These activities include foreign interference, which aims to align Canada’s position with India’s interest on key issues, particularly with respect to how the Indian government perceives Canada-based supporters of an independent Sikh homeland (Khalistan)”

Other key findings in the Report with respect to India include:

India, without distinction, views all pro-Khalistan political advocacy as a seditious threat.
Targets of Indian foreign interference are often members of the Indo-Canadian communities, but prominent non-Indo-Canadians are also subject to India’s foreign influence activities.

“Indian officials in Canada have increasingly relied on Canadian and Canadian-based proxies and the contacts in their networks to conduct foreign interference. This obfuscates any explicit link between India and the foreign interference activities. Proxies liaise and work with Indian intelligence officials in India and in Canada, taking both explicit and implicit direction from them.”

With respect to the 2019 and 2021 Canadian Federal elections, the Report finds that “Indian proxy agents may have attempted to interfere in democratic processes, reportedly including through the clandestine provision of illicit financial support to various Canadian politicians as a means of attempting to secure the election of pro-Indian candidates or gaining influence over candidates who take office. In some instances, the candidates may never know their campaigns received illicit funds”

In the 2021 elections “Indian officials were observed expressing interest in individual electoral contests and likely hoped pro-Indian candidates would prevail, or, at least, that perceived anti-Indian candidates would not be (re-)elected”

WSO President Danish Singh said today, “We welcome Justice Hogue’s findings that India is engaging in foreign interference activities in Canada targeting the Sikh community but also engaged in interference activities in the 2019 and 2021 Canadian Federal Elections. India’s interference in Canada has been a lived reality for the Sikh community for the past four decades but has largely gone without notice in the mainstream.

Foreign interference in Canada from India poses a serious threat to our democratic institutions and to the rights guaranteed to all Canadians. For Sikhs, the impact of Indian foreign interference extends beyond just elections and has resulted in actual physical harm. The assassination of Bhai Hardeep Singh Nijjar underscores the consequences faced by those who dare to exercise their freedom of expression in defiance of intimidation by India.

There have been long-standing efforts to minimize and conceal India’s interference activities in Canada. We are hopeful that today’s Report will lead to greater transparency and decisive action to check India’s hostile activities targeting Canada and the Sikh community.”

The WSO is a non-profit national 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, irrespective or race, gender, ethnicity, religion or nationality.

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