In a sweeping operation conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a total of 51 locations were raided across several states in India early this morning. The operation targeted criminal syndicates with connections to Khalistani separatists and terrorists operating abroad, particularly in Pakistan and Canada. These syndicates have been suspected of facilitating and engaging in terror-related activities in collaboration with overseas extremist groups.
The focus of these raids was on dismantling the intricate web of connections between Indian criminal networks and foreign-based extremists, who have allegedly utilized these networks for various nefarious purposes. Notably, these operations come at a time when India is embroiled in a significant diplomatic dispute with Canada, making it even more crucial to uncover and address these links.
The diplomatic row between India and Canada escalated when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed to possess “credible” information connecting “agents of Delhi” to the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. Nijjar held Canadian citizenship, and India has vehemently denied these allegations, asserting that Canadian authorities have not shared any evidence to substantiate the claims. India’s Foreign Minister, S Jaishankar, has raised concerns about the rising instances of “organised crime relating to secessionist forces and extremism” within Canada.
The early morning NIA raids targeted over 50 locations associated with criminal gangs led by Lawrence Bishnoi and Arshdeep Dalla, who is based in Canada. Delhi Police had recently linked these individuals to the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, underscoring the gravity of their alleged involvement in terrorist activities.
During the raids, a substantial cache of arms, ammunition, and digital evidence was seized by the NIA, highlighting the significance of these operations. According to the NIA, individuals like Arshdeep Dalla and Gaurav Patial, who are currently residing abroad, maintain close ties with Khalistani terrorists to secure funding, smuggle weapons, order assassinations, engage in acts of extortion, and participate in other anti-national activities.
The raids were conducted in multiple states, including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the National Capital Region. In Punjab alone, the NIA conducted raids at 30 locations. These efforts are part of a broader strategy to build a solid case against these syndicates, many of which are believed to be operating from Dubai and are connected to cases filed by the NIA last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Among the targets of the raids were individuals like Canada-based Lakhbir Singh alias Landa, Pakistan-based Harvinder Singh Rinda, and Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who resides in the United States and is the founder of the banned Sikhs for Justice separatist group. The investigations have also resulted in cases being filed against prominent gangster figures such as Goldy Brar, Vikram Brar, Bambiha, Kaushal Chaudhary, Neeraj Bawana, Dilpreet, Sukhpreet alias Budha, Sunil alias Tillu Tajpuriya, and Bambiha, who met a fatal end in a 2016 encounter.
Of these figures, Lawrence Bishnoi is currently incarcerated in Ahmedabad, while Arshdeep Dalla resides in Canada. The NIA has recently seized properties owned by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in Chandigarh and Amritsar, as he remains wanted since 2019 on multiple charges, including promoting and commissioning terrorist acts, with 22 criminal cases pending against him in Punjab alone, including three charges of sedition.
Notably, just a few days before these raids, the NIA had conducted operations at over 1,000 locations in Punjab and Haryana, with links to Goldy Brar, who was allegedly involved in planning the murder of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala.
India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, in his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, emphasized that “political convenience” should not dictate a nation’s response to terrorism, a statement widely interpreted as a reference to China and Canada. Canada is home to a sizable and politically influential Sikh community, which is expected to play a significant role in the upcoming general election in 2025.