India needs to call the bluff of the 'Five Eyes' alliance. Two of the countries in this intelligence sharing arrangement between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (the first two) have urged us to “cooperate” with Canada on the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

They have also alleged that our directive to Canada to reduce its diplomatic presence is somehow violative of the Vienna Convention.

We must privately — which is the operative word — tell the US and the other four yes-men in the alliance, that your position on Nijjar is not just one-sided, but racist.

It is racist for two obvious reasons: one, it is an Anglo-Saxon alliance, and not a general alliance of democracies sharing intelligence on terrorism, et al.

More important, while India is being asked to cooperate on Nijjar, there is no commensurate call on Canada to address Indian concerns, including the use of Canadian soil to perpetrate crimes in India, and making unwarranted references to political developments in India (eg, Justin Trudeau’s decision to weigh in on the farmers’ stir in 2020).

If the allegation is that India is interfering in Canada’s internal affairs, and also helped (directly or indirectly) perpetuate an assassination on its soil, surely Canada is guilty of the same crime here.

Secondly, there is as yet no intelligence shared by Canada on the Nijjar killing. Since this intelligence is said to be of the “sig-int” kind, that is interception of diplomatic messages through electronic eaves-dropping, most likely this won’t be shared.

Worse, any such sharing would imply that Five Eyes was monitoring Indian diplomatic chatter or correspondence, which is also a violation of the Vienna Convention.

Under the convention, the following three rules are important. The premises of diplomats, their documents, and their communications with their home countries are inviolable, and any sig-int implies that this diplomatic convention was broken.

Of course, the big powers will not stop snooping on both enemies and allies. The US was found to be snooping on Angela Merkel, former German chancellor, not just India.

However, if we assume that snooping is part of a country’s own right to protect its interests by gathering covert intelligence, it follows that this intelligence can only be used for its own protection, and not for racist, diplomatic coercion of a friendly country.

So India is on firm ground here, and it must call this one-sided demand for cooperation involving the killing of a terrorist on Canadian soil. Without a quid pro quo, there is no case whatsoever for any Indian cooperation on Nijjar.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar indicated the other day that India can ease up on reopening visa offices if there was some concession from Canada's side. But what we must not do is give in to US pressure (the ruling Eye among the Five Eyes) without reciprocity.

In any case, India reserves the right to defend its interests if its Anglo-Saxon allies won’t do a thing to protect our diplomats and citizens, both in their own countries and in India. If the US can bump off its enemies abroad, India surely can take action in its own interests if the host country refuses to cooperate. Cooperation is a two-way street.

India must quietly tell the US that if its Five Eyes have so much access to even diplomatic conversations, they must surely have the same on Khalistani chatter that is inimical to India. We must put the US on the mat by demanding Five Eyes intelligence on Khalistanis for any help on the Nijjar murder, which is most likely to have been the result of inter-gang warfare in Canada.

It is common sense to acknowledge that if Canadian citizens can order hits in India, the same conduits can easily be used by the same gangs to bump off their criminal rivals in Canada. Whether Indian agents aided this process or not is secondary.

India must call the Five Eyes bluff — but mostly in private conversations with Uncle Sam and the UK. We have no reason to publicly embarrass our economic allies. However, we have a right to give one of those 'five eyes' a 'black eye' for supporting terrorism on Indian soil.