An Indian national accused of spying on Sikh and Kashmiri communities in Germany for New Delhi’s secret services went on trial in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
The suspect, identified as 54-year-old Balvir S., is accused of working for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency, from at least January 2015.
Alleged Spy passed on information to his handlers at Indian consulate
“He allegedly provided information about figures in the Sikh opposition scene and the Kashmiri movement and their relatives in Germany, and passed this on to his handlers who were working at the Indian consulate general in Frankfurt,” the higher regional court in the city said in a statement earlier this week.
A total of 10 hearings before the regional superior court are scheduled, with the trial due to conclude on October 29.
The same Frankfurt court convicted an Indian couple for spying on the same communities last December. The husband was handed a suspended prison sentence of 18 months for acting as a foreign intelligence agent and his wife fined 180 days’ wages for aiding him.
Another Indian national, working for spy agency RAW, faces trial for spying on Sikh and Kashmiri communities in Germany.
In Dec 2019, Frankfurt court convicted an Indian couple for espionage activities on the same communitieshttps://t.co/g8IOPOazhW
— Sana Jamal (@Sana_Jamal) May 13, 2020
India and Pakistan have disputed Kashmir since they became independent and split in 1947, with the nuclear rivals fighting two out of three wars over the region.
Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in Kashmir
An insurgency against Indian rule has been waged since 1989 in Kashmir, claiming tens of thousands of lives.
The same Frankfurt court convicted an Indian couple for spying on the same communities last December. The husband was handed a suspended prison sentence of 18 months for acting as a foreign intelligence agent and his wife was fined 180 days’ wages for aiding him.
The court in Frankfurt was told that Manmohan S, 51, was recruited by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s main external intelligence agency, in 2015 and asked to spy on Kashmiri opposition groups.
History of Indian spying on the Sikh community
“The accused reported on the internal affairs of the Sikh temples in Cologne and Frankfurt, as well as on protest events in the Sikh community,” a court statement said.
He attended regular meetings with an Indian intelligence officer from July 2017 and was paid €200 a month for the information he provided.
Kanwal Jit K, 50, accompanied him to the meetings, the court said.
As well as the suspended sentence, Manmohan S was ordered to a pay €1,500 to a charitable institution. Kanwal Jit K was fined the equivalent of 180 days’ wages for helping her husband.
Historically after the 1984 massacre of Sikh people in India and the assassination of Indra Gandhi, the instigator of the destruction of the Golden Temple, India has been wary of Sikh militancy. India has since then allegedly kept up spying networks on Sikh communities around the world. It has also done the same to Kashmiri communities.
Congress Party leaders met with local supporters to distribute money and weapons. Congress MP Sajjan Kumar and trade-union leader Lalit Maken handed out ₹100 notes and bottles of liquor to the assailants.
On the morning of 1 November, Sajjan Kumar was observed holding rallies in the Delhi neighbourhoods of Palam Colony (from 06:30 to 07:00), Kiran Gardens (08:00 to 08:30), and Sultanpuri (about 08:30 to 09:00). In Kiran Gardens at 8:00 am, Kumar was observed distributing iron rods from a parked truck to a group of 120 people and ordering them to “attack Sikhs, kill them, and loot and burn their properties”.
During the morning he led a mob along the Palam railway road to Mangolpuri, where the crowd chanted: “Kill the Sardars” and “Indira Gandhi is our mother and these people have killed her”.
India has never apologised formally for the massacres nor has it ever carried out punitive measures for any culprits. Many witnesses of the massacre have reported the Indian state and police supporting the massacres in which allegedly 10,000 to 20,000 Sikhs were killed.
Frankfurt is of particular interest to the Indian secret services because western Germany is home to the largest Sikh community in the country, estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000 people, and one of the largest in Europe.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk