A troubling pattern has emerged on international arena just recently, raising alarm about extrajudicial killings and state-sponsored violence to stifle dissent and opposition. This perplexing trend which has ironically been prevalent in smaller South Asian countries earlier, has now taken a disturbing turn with the cold-blooded assassinations of first-world citizens by intelligence operatives of a country, known to mizzle dissent. The arrest of Nikhil Gupta in the United States, the execution of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, and the mysterious killing of Avtar Singh Khanda in the United Kingdom, are three vivid examples of a new and brazen dimension in international relations and diplomacy among the states.
The arrest and prosecution of Indian national Nikhil Gupta by US federal authorities bring into limelight a concerning global phenomenon: the outsourced conduct of murder attempt on a political dissident. Gupta is accused of being recruited to kill a Sikh activist on American territory by an Indian Government agent. His capture in the Czech Republic on murder-for-hire accusations highlights the extent to which extrajudicial tactics have become a standard tool for both large and small governments, while dealing with people opposed to their Governments.
Under the same vein, the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar- a Sikh separatist leader associated with a renowned Sikh temple in Vancouver, Canada, reveals a professional assassination operation. Nijjar was killed in the temple parking lot by gunmen wearing facemasks. The Canadian Government was able to intercept communications of an Indian envoy indicating his complicity in the conspiracy. This episode not only strained relations between Delhi and Ottawa, but it also raised concerns about the global reach of state-sponsored violence.
The mysterious poising of Sikh activist Avtar Singh Khanda in Birmingham, UK, adds another dimension to this tragic story. Khanda had earlier complained about harassment by Indian Police and threats to his family members in Punjab months before his tragic demise. His murder correlated with an emerging strategy involving an Indian Government Officer, who reportedly directed the assassination of a US citizen and Sikh activist, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, as alleged by US prosecutors. The interconnection of all these episodes exposes a well-coordinated murder-for-hire campaign by India.
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While suppressing dissenting voices is a prevalent tactic in smaller third-world countries, the emergence of a newly formed phenomenon of cold-blooded killings on first-world soil, make a new precedent, unprecedented being viewed with concern by the modern world. The developed world, which has usually been passionate about human rights violations, suddenly finds its own citizens victims of alleged state-sponsored violence. This has prompted global condemnation and assessment of diplomatic ties with countries, which indulge in such brazen acts.
The international community is not accepting the execution of dark expansionist ambitions as a new normal, even while nations like India, under Modi Sarkar, appear to be punching far above their weight. The arrogance with which extrajudicial murders are being carried out signifies a dramatic shift in power dynamics, putting sovereignty, human rights, and the rule of law at serious risk. The geopolitical ramifications of such events go beyond the immediate diplomatic repercussions. The international community, including big Governments, is trying to debate a complicated predicament in which democratic norms and the integrity of international borders are being questioned. The international community is recognizing that normalizing state-sponsored violence on foreign land is not a viable option.
This is not the only case, where the Indian Government has been involved in conducting such activities on foreign soil but most recently, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in a press conference exposed Indian Networks operating in Pakistan, who were involved in the assassination of people carrying soft-corner towards Kashmiris. In its revelations, MoFA said, the group was getting funds from third-world countries. The Government of Pakistan showed its willingness to hand over detailed documents containing all the evidence to the United Nations to take legal action against India for violating sovereignty and international norms.
The first world, in particular, is in a dilemma as governments engage in international repression. It must strike an arrangement between its devotion to basic principles and the requirement of preserving diplomatic ties with states like India, accused of using extrajudicial tactics. The stakes are high, and the international community’s response will not only define the narrative around the responsibility of Governments engaging in such acts but will also set the tone for future interactions in the global arena.
In the backdrop, the international community must unify in its opposition to any attempts to normalize state-sponsored terrorism and oppression on foreign lands. Individuals’ safety and rights, regardless of nationality or political party, must be protected to sustain the fundamental values of a just and balanced global system. As the entire world struggles with multifaceted dynamics, striking an appropriate balance between diplomacy and the defence of core principles, remain critical for the global community’s collective well-being. By doing so, the international community sends an explicit signal that the normalization of unlawful acts and violence on foreign land is unacceptable, and those culpable will have to face consequence.