Sunak’s desperation for a trade deal with India is putting British Sikh lives at risk

Sunak’s desperation for a trade deal with India is putting British Sikh lives at risk

London – 20 September 2023

The UK Government should be protecting and standing up for the rights of British Sikhs and supporting the Canadian Government following the serious allegations against the Indian government of involvement in the assassination of a Sikh leader in Canada.

The explosive statement by Justin Trudeau in the Canadian Parliament on Monday has brought into focus the safety and security of British Sikhs and the role of the UK Government.

It has also led to questions about the UK Government led by Rishi Sunak when it comes to India, the desperation of the Conservative Government for a trade deal and unfair targeting of the British Sikh community.

The UK Government know British counter terrorism police have serious concerns about the activities of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) that has been increasingly targeting Sikhs in the UK.

This started in April 2023 when an NIA team visited the UK and inappropriately started sharing video footage and still photographs on social media of Sikhs protesters outside the Indian High Commission.

British counter terrorism officers told Sikh representatives in a meeting in late June the activities of the NIA on social media could be deemed to be “hostile activities” by a foreign government and amount to criminal activity or “state repression”. This information would have been communicated to the Home Secretary and Security Minister.

The NIA then foolishly issued a ‘hit list’ in early July on Indian television of 20 Sikhs living abroad - providing names, photographs and the countries in which they reside. Six of the twenty live in the UK. On the same TV clip they claimed they had eliminated Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada and Avtar Singh Khanda in the UK.

MPs representing the six Sikhs in the UK that were publicly threatened on Indian television wrote to the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary specifically mentioning the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.

Following the statement by Justin Trudeau on Monday we have established from Conservative MPs who want to remain anonymous that the Foreign Office raised serious concerns about the NIA and the hit list with the Indian authorities.

This almost certainly led to a tit-for-tat by the NIA that raided the family homes in Panjab, India of around 40 Sikhs permanently living in the UK, harassed family members and summoned them to the NIA court in Delhi in early August.

This included the homes and families of the Chair and Vice Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) who took up the matter with their MPs.

The White House accepts Justin Trudeau’s statement calling out the Indian government is an indication of the Canadian leader’s certainty about what had been found. The Canadian Government has also confirmed they worked “very closely” with the United States on the intelligence behind Trudeau’s accusation.

Bob Rae, Canada’s representative at the United Nations told CNN yesterday that very reliable information was shared with India several weeks ago and they were forced to shift from ‘quiet diplomacy’ to the statement in Parliament.

Dabinderjit Singh, the Principal Adviser of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Rishi Sunak’s desperation for a trade deal with India in putting British Sikh lives at risk.”

“Prior to and during the G20 Summit the focus was on Rishi Sunak failing to call for the release of British citizen, Jagtar Singh Johal who has been tortured and been in arbitrary detention in an Indian jail for nearly six years’”

“We now know the UK Government raised concerns with the Indian authorities about the NIA and the ‘hit list’ of Sikhs living abroad. Unfortunately, this led the NIA to harass the families of British Sikhs living in India.”

“It is safe to assume Canada as a close ally of the UK and as part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance that also includes the U.S., Australia and New Zealand know the intelligence the Canadian Government holds from multiple sources is compelling.”

“it is also clear that Canada is able to put out more information that will force its’ close allies to side with Canada against India that will have far reaching consequences.”

“The UK Government should do what is right and stand with Canada over the unacceptable tit-for tat expulsion of Olivier Sylvestre, the station chief for Canada’s intelligence agency in New Delhi.”

“Rishi Sunak would do well to remember Canada expelled four Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in Salisbury in 2018.”

ENDS Jaspal Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)

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