Mumbai: Canada has named India as a ‘foreign threat’, while accusing the country of interfering in their elections, months after they alleged India’s role in the killing of pro-Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil.
The allegation was made by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in a declassified intelligence report on election meddling. India is yet to respond to the allegation.
This is the latest in a string of claims and counter-allegations that began last year, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claiming Indian involvement in the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which India rejected.
The October 2022 study titled ‘Foreign Intervention and Elections: A National Security Assessment’ identified India as a ‘danger’ and warned that foreign intervention was undermining Canada’s democracy.
According to Global News, foreign involvement differs from traditional diplomacy in that it involves the use of secret and deceit to influence public narratives and policymaking.
This is the first time Canada has accused India of election tampering, an allegation that China and Russia have previously faced. In a ‘Briefing to the Minister of Democratic Institutions on Foreign Interference’ issued in February of last year, China was described as “by far the most significant threat.”
“We know that the PRC sought to clandestinely and deceptively influence the 2019 and 2021 federal elections,” the study stated.
The parts of the paper made public do not name any countries, but other materials name India and China as top dangers, according to media reports. It stated that foreign meddling affects Canada and Canadians by undermining sovereignty, democratic processes, and ideals.
“FI (foreign interference) activities incrementally weaken the fabric of Canadian democracy, subtly diminish the hard-won social cohesion of a multicultural society, and impinge on the Charter rights of Canadians,” the report said.
The Canadian Prime Minister has requested an investigation into the allegations.
Tensions have been building between India and Canada since Prime Minister Narendra Modi chastised Justin Trudeau for escalating secessionist activities in his country at a bilateral meeting on the margins of the G20 conference in Delhi last year.
A week after that, Trudeau made the explosive charge that “Indian government agents” could be behind the shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and a wanted terrorist in India, outside a gurdwara in Surrey in June. India rejected the allegation as “absurd”.