The United States reportedly warned Sikh-American activists residing mainly in the state of California to be watchful in the wake of the brazen killing in June of a Sikh leader allegedly by agents of the Indian government. According to The Intercept, an online American news organization, agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a domestic intelligence agency, visited several Sikh activists in California this summer with an “alarming” message: ‘Their lives were also at risk’.
The Intercept said the warnings have taken on a new urgency after Canada’s bombshell revelation Monday that it has credible intelligence pointing to Indian government involvement in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and advocate for an independent Sikh state, who was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia. Pritpal Singh, a political activist and U.S. citizen who is a coordinator for the American Sikh Caucus Committee, was quoted as saying by The Intercept that he and two other Sikh-Americans involved in political organizing in California received calls and visits from the FBI after Nijjar was killed. “I was visited by two FBI special agents in late June who told me that they had received information that there was a threat against my life,” said Singh. “They did not tell us specifically where the threat was coming from, but they said that I should be careful.”
The two other Sikh activists, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, told The Intercept that they were also visited by the FBI around the same time as Pritpal Singh. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment, the news outlet said.
Sikhs throughout the U.S. have received police warnings about potential threats, said Sukhman Dhami, co-director of Ensaaf, a California-based nonprofit group that focuses on human rights in India, particularly in the Sikh-majority state of Punjab.
“We have also received messages that certain community leaders associated with politics of Sikh self-determination have recently been visited by law enforcement and warned that they may be targets,” Dhami told The Intercept. On Thursday, a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation revealed that Canada determined India’s culpability in the Nijjar killing based on signals and human intelligence, including the communications of Indian diplomats in Canada and information from an unnamed partner in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising the U.S., Canada, the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia. Earlier this week, Canada expelled a top Indian diplomat who was the head of the Indian intelligence agency in the country.
India has rejected the allegations as “absurd” and in turn accused Canada of patronizing Sikh militant and extremist groups. India on Thursday issued a call for information about protesters who allegedly tried to start a fire at the Indian consulate in San Francisco earlier this year.
The U.S. has expressed concern over the allegations, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the U.S. is cooperating with Canada in its investigation. In a statement this week, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that India does not have “special exemption” to carry out actions like extrajudicial killings, for which the U.S. criticizes rival countries like Russia and China.__Daily Times