In a major development, a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has revealed that gangster Lawrence Bishnoi funded Khalistani terror activities via a nexus of extortion and money laundering that involves India, Thailand and ultimately Canada.
This comes amid a diplomatic row between India and Canada over the death of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, for whom Trudeau recently alleged the role of "Indian agents".
According to the investigation, Lawrence Bishnoi and his associates have generated a huge amount of money primarily by the means of the sale of illegal liquor and extortion. Furthermore, one of Bishnoi's associates named Manish Bhandari, who is currently living in Thailand and operates a hotel chain, is involved in laundering the money used to fund such activities.
The money was extorted from businessmen and liquor contractors in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and other states in India, reveals NIA's investigation. The money was sent to Bishnoi's close associates Brar and Satbir Singh alias Sam in Canada via money laundering. This money was used by Khalistani movements against India.
According to the agency, the money laundering scheme also involves Canadian Premier League, movies and bars. Much of the money is invested by Bishnoi's associates in agricultural land and properties on their families or relatives' names. The profit generated is used in perpetuating Khalistani terror activities against India.
The Khalistani groups reportedly recruit people in Punjab and other states through the use of social media. According to a chargesheet, large sums of money have been sent 13 times from Thailand to Canada between 2019 and 2021.
The NIA is making further efforts to block the financial network of pro-Khalistani activities, particularly in light of Trudeau's explosive allegations of "credible evidence" of India's involvement in Nijjar's killing.
Bishnoi's role in killing of Khalistani terrorist
It is worth mentioning that Lawrence Bishnoi's gang took the responsibility of killing another Khalistani terrorist and wanted gangster Sukhdool Singh alias Sukha Duneke in Canada.
On Thursday, Sukha was killed in a shootout. He is alleged to have escaped to Canada on the basis of forged documents. Bishnoi's gang said that Sukha was allegedly involved in the killings of several people associated with different gangs and that he was a drug addict who destroyed several lives.
His killing came less than 24 hours after the NIA issued a list of wanted criminals who were either residing in India or fled.
NIA takes action against Gurpatwant Pannu
Meanwhile, the NIA also confiscated the property of pro-Khalistan organisation Sikhs for Justice's (SFJ) terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu in Chandigarh and Amritsar. According to NIA, now Pannu has no right to the property and is now with the government.
Multiple agencies have filed cases against Pannun who has been declared as an "individual terrorist" under the fourth schedule of UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Act).
Canada-based Pannu, the chief of Sikhs for Justice, an outlawed organisation in India, was designated as a wanted terrorist in 2020. He is facing more than 20 criminal cases in Punjab. He has repeatedly threatened several Indian leaders including PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.
The Centre by its July 10, 2019 notification had declared SFJ unlawful association and had banned it for five years, saying the group's primary objective was to establish an "independent and sovereign country" in Punjab and it openly espouses the cause of Khalistan and in that process, challenges the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. This was later upheld by an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act tribunal.
India-Canada diplomatic row
ndia-Canada relations nosedived to the lowest point after Trudeau's allegations in Canadian Parliament of "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar, who was gunned down in British Columbia's Surrey on June 18.
India angrily rejected the Canadian PM's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to a similar move by Ottawa. India also temporarily suspended visa services for Canadian nationals in view of "security threats" and called for a reduction of Canadian diplomats in New Delhi.
India also advised all its nationals in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes. The diplomatic standoff between both countries has laid uncertainties over trade relations, as India and Canada recorded a burgeoning bilateral trade for the past few years.