Unraveling RAW’s global reach

A threat to international stability

In recent times, the harrowing assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent leader of the Khalistan movement, on Canadian soil has sparked profound concerns, not only for the Sikh community but also for the international community at large. Canadian PM Trudeau’s bold accusation directly implicating the Modi-led Indian government has thrust India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) into the limelight, raising serious questions about its alleged involvement in targeted assassinations and its global expansion.

The Canadian government’s response to Nijjar’s killing underscores the gravity of the situation. Nijjar, previously declared a terrorist by the Indian government due to his association with the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement, met a tragic end shortly after this designation. The timing of his murder, in conjunction with the Indian government’s branding, raises legitimate concerns about the authenticity of mere coincidence.

Delving into the intricacies of this matter, recent reports by The Intercept, a reputable US online news outlet, shed light on RAW’s purported agenda of planning assassinations targeting Sikh and Kashmiri activists residing in foreign countries. This revelation aligns with a broader global push by RAW, as confirmed by its officials, particularly gaining momentum after 2008. Subsequent to this expansion, instances of violence mirroring Nijjar’s assassination have been extensively documented in various regions, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The common thread tying these incidents together is undeniably reflective of RAW’s modus operandi.

The global dimension of RAW’s alleged activities is further emphasized by the testimony of Bhagat Singh, a Canadian Sikh separatist, who asserted that anyone critical of the Indian government, regardless of their location, faces a looming threat. In the aftermath of Nijjar’s orchestrated murder in Canada, the FBI issued a stark warning to Sikh Americans, cautioning them about potential threats to their lives. Similarly, in October, the family of Avtar Singh Khanda, a pro-Khalistan UK resident, claimed that the Indian intelligence agency poisoned him to death for his activism outside the Indian High Commission in London. These incidents paint a bleak picture for individuals critical of the Indian government, illustrating the global scale of the perceived threat.

The apparent global expansion of RAW’s assassination programme, encapsulated by increasing acts of violence against Indian critics abroad, raises profound concerns about the agency having gone rogue. Such a scenario would not only jeopardize the safety of individuals but also carry serious global implications, potentially escalating the frequency of violence orchestrated by the agency.

Compounding these accusations is the revelation from the Five Eyes, comprising the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, which pointed to Indian involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The combined testimony of these influential Western powers amplifies the scrutiny on RAW, branding it as a sponsor of terrorism. This exposes India to questions about its credibility as a responsible state actor, eroding trust within the international community.

In response to these alarming developments, it becomes imperative for the international community to intervene and address India’s state-sponsored terrorism on foreign soil. Safeguarding universal right to free speech is paramount, and concerted efforts must be made to ensure protection of individuals critical of Indian government, irrespective of their geographical location.

The spectre of RAW’s alleged global assassination program demands a comprehensive and cooperative response from the international community. Diplomatic channels must be activated to scrutinize these claims, and if substantiated, appropriate measures should be taken to hold those responsible accountable. The urgency of addressing this issue lies not only in protecting the rights of individuals but also in preserving global stability in the face of potentially unchecked state-sponsored violence.

In the volatile landscape of South Asia, Pakistan has consistently found itself targeted by clandestine operations of RAW. Pakistan’s intelligence apparatus has uncovered evidence pointing to New Delhi’s active involvement in leveraging terrorism as a tool to destabilize Islamabad. Through RAW, India has been implicated in regularly financing banned extremist groups, notably the BLA and the TTP.

The arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav on charges of engaging in terrorist activities in Balochistan underscored extent of RAW’s involvement. Jadhav admitted to undertaking activities of an “anti-national or terrorist nature” that resulted in loss of lives and injuries to Pakistani citizens.

Shockingly, revelations in 2020 disclosed that it wasn’t just Indian spies but also diplomats and military officers who were complicit in orchestrating terrorist incidents within Pakistan. These collaborations facilitated numerous terrorist attacks, including the heinous APS massacre in 2014, the attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange in 2020, the Mastung attack in 2023, and numerous others. The toll on innocent civilians has been devastating, with thousands losing their lives. Such incessant incidents have not only impeded Pakistan’s growth but also perpetuated its status as a security state, grappling with internal strife.

Ironically, New Delhi, while actively participating in destabilizing actions, doesn’t shy away from casting aspersions on Pakistan, consistently accusing it of terrorism. This glaring double standard sees India dispatching spies to instigate violence on Pakistani soil and then assuming the role of a victim by blaming Pakistan for acts of terrorism. As of 2020, intelligence reports revealed that Indian agencies were operating 87 terrorist camps aimed at targeting Pakistan, with concrete evidence indicating RAW’s provision of weapons to the TTP.

Compounding these accusations is the revelation from the Five Eyes, comprising the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, which pointed to Indian involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The combined testimony of these influential Western powers amplifies the scrutiny on RAW, branding it as a sponsor of terrorism. This exposes India to questions about its credibility as a responsible state actor, eroding trust within the international community.

Given this context, India’s standing as a reliable and trustworthy strategic partner, both in the East and the West, is undeniably compromised. Pakistan, despite facing immense challenges from hostile neighbours like India and Afghanistan, has made substantial sacrifices to maintain peace within its borders. The international community acknowledges these efforts, recognizing the toll on civilians, military and police personnel, politicians, and journalists. It is imperative that India reconsiders its approach, abandoning populist politics driven by selfish gains.

Asad Ali
Asad Ali
The writer is a freelance columnist

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