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India concerned about the growth of pro-Khalistan movement in Canada: Officials

TORONTO: India is watching warily the growth of the pro-Khalistan movement in Canada particularly as it appears to have entered a new phase. The most concern is about the enhanced linkage with organised criminal gangs that operate in Canada and India.

Indian officials told the Hindustan Times that there were at least eight such prominent gang leaders present in Canada at this time and they appear to direct activities from here. This nexus between some Canada-based radicals and gangsters provides the former with “foot soldiers” in India, a luxury they did not enjoy earlier, an official said.

While they did not specify names of these gangsters, they said they have been discussed in detail during ongoing conversations between India’s National Investigation Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

More worrying for them is the emerging reality of gangsters in Canada securing ties with Khalistani groups. Many of them, they said, met while in jails in India and combined forces. They are then able to direct hits on targets in India, and even Canada, because of the large presence of Indo-Canadian gangs in the country.

No motive has yet been attributed to the targeted killing of Ripudaman Singh Malik in Surrey, British Columbia, but it appeared to be a gangland-style hit. Malik was once accused of playing a role in the bombing of the Air India flight Kanishka in 1985, which claimed 329 lives. However, he was acquitted of all charges in the case. He was executed close to the premises of a business he ran in the town of Surrey in the Metro Vancouver region around 9.30am on July 14.

There has been speculation that his death could be linked to his change of heart over Khalistan and the letter he wrote this January praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another to the community asking it to renounce separatism. The case is still being investigated by Canada’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

The officials also referred to the killing of Punjabi singer and politician Sidhu Moose Wala on May 29 this year in Punjab and how a leader of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, 28-year-old Satinderjeet Singh alias Goldy Brar, apparently in Canada at present, took to social media to claim credit for the murder. While Brar faces multiple criminal charges in Indian courts, none of them have been tested in Canada.

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News Desk