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Jaskaran Sandhu: An Indian Counterintelligence Agent Is Working At The Indian High Commission in Ottawa
Bikram Pal Singh Bhatty, while still in service with Indian intelligence & policing, has ostensibly been tasked with handling passports, visas, & other consular matters at the Indian High Commission
September 15, 2023 | 3.5 min.read | Original Reporting
As Canadian politicians and security experts continue to grapple with foreign interference, how it is conducted, and the ways in which it impacts diasporic communities in Canada, new concerns from the Sikh community have arisen regarding a mysterious Indian diplomat with an intelligence and policing resume stationed in Ottawa.
While India lists a “BPS Bhatty” on the High Commission of India (Ottawa) website as a First Secretary (Consular), omitting his full name and not providing any contact information, contrary to other officials on the High Commission page, information published by the Government of Quebec regarding foreign dignitaries in the Canadian capital shares that the individual’s full name is actually Bikram Pal Singh Bhatty.
A Baaz investigation into Bhatty’s background exposes a controversial history in policing, intelligence, and counterintelligence rather than administration and diplomacy.
Credentials which have Sikhs believing Bhatty has been assigned to Canada to spy on and exert influence over the community through his unassuming role, and the protection it brings, at the Indian High Commission.
Bhatty's experience in counterintelligence and Indian intelligence agencies further substantiates these worries.
In 2007, he cleared the Civil Services (Main) Examination, earning a recommendation and approval to become an IPS Batch Officer the following year. Bhatty was subsequently assigned as a cadre to the Indian Police Service in Punjab. His past assignments included positions as a police officer in Phillaur, Jalandhar, and Amritsar.
Then, in 2015, Bhatty was assigned to Central Deputation, Indian government-speak for being assigned to the central government and its agencies, as Asstt. Director within the notorious Intelligence Bureau (IB) to conduct counterintelligence operations.
In 2018, he was embroiled in a legal quagmire, with allegations of custodial violence and police torture stemming from an incident in 2011.
In 2022, Bhatty was reassigned again to Central Deputation, this time to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and he was also promoted to the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in the Punjab Police.
Officers assigned to Central Deputation are seen to have been placed at the Intelligence Bureau (IB) or Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) desk in India’s central government. The latter is the Indian foreign intelligence agency.
Shortly after his promotion, while still on Central Deputation, he arrived in Canada as the First Secretary (Consular) at the Indian High Commission, ostensibly tasked with handling passports, visas, and other consular matters.
Diplomat and International Canada, an industry magazine, lists Bikram Pal Singh Bhatty as a new arrival to the Indian High Commission in its Winter/Spring 2022 edition.
“What is someone with years of experience in policing and counterintelligence doing at a High Commission dealing with passports?” Balpreet Singh of the World Sikh Organization shared, expressing concern that India may be operating an unofficial police station and intelligence agency targeting Sikh Canadians out of its offices in Ottawa.
Indian intelligence agencies, such as IB and RAW, have a track record of engaging in foreign interference and espionage in Canada, including through its diplomats and their offices across the country.
In 1987, CSIS uncovered that several Indian diplomats were using their cover at consulates to spy on Sikh Canadians and were forced to leave the country when exposed.
More recently, in 2009, reports and court documents revealed India’s attempts to influence Canadian politicians through an editor-in-chief of an unnamed Indian newspaper living in Canada by suggesting he “act as an unofficial lobbyist or diplomat.”
All of this leads to a lot of questions, Balpreet Singh states.
“How much information does CSIS possess regarding Bhatty's activities while residing in Canada? Including claims of covert meetings and the exerting of Indian state influence in Canada. Claims which take Bhatty’s roles at the High Commission outside of his official duties claimed by India.”
Judy Thomas, Canada’s national security advisor, recently shared that India is among the top actors for foreign interference in Canada.
Baaz reached out, on multiple occasions, to the Indian High Commission and its various officers but had not received a response at the time of publishing.
Jaskaran Sandhu hails from Brampton, Canada, and is the co-founder of Baaz. He is a Strategist at the public affairs and relations agency State Strategy. Jaskaran also previously served as Executive Director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada and as a Senior Advisor to Brampton’s Office of the Mayor. You can find Jaskaran on Twitter at @JaskaranSandhu_
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