Who Is Hardeep Singh Nijjar? Slain Khalistan Sympathiser Behind India-Canada Diplomatic Row

India-Canada Diplomatic Row: Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian Sikh leader and Khalistan sympathiser, was murdered in June this year in Surrey, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The murder is now at the centre of a diplomatic row between India and Canada. After Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat posted in that country, following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks at the house of Commons that he had found “credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar”, New Delhi too asked a senior Canadian diplomat to leave India “within the next five days”.

Nijjar, 45, was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen on June 18 in the parking lot of Surrey Gurdwara Sahib in Brampton.

Trudeau, who was recently in India for the G20 Summit said that he had brought up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his New Delhi visit. “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he said.

Carrying a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, Nijjar was one of India’s most-wanted terrorists.

ALSO READ: Canada Expels Indian Envoy As Trudeau Links ‘Agents’ Of Indian Govt To Killing Of Khalistani Leader

Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar? 

Nijjar moved from India to Canada in 1997 and worked as a plumber. He was also the president of a Sikh temple in Surrey, and a close associate of prominent Khalistan separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founder of the secessionist Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) – a proscribed organisation. 

Nijjar was accused of threatening to kill Indian diplomats posted in the UK, Canada and Australia, and was wanted by India for his alleged involvement in the Khalistan separatist movement as one of its leaders. He even took out protests and rallies with the posters of Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma and Consul General of India Apoorva Srivastava in Toronto, threatening to bring harm to them if their demands were not met. Their demand was to create a separate country carved out of India’s Punjab.

ALSO READ: Pro-Khalistan Leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar Shot Dead Outside Gurdwara In Canada

Charges Against Nijjar

According to a Global News (Canada) report, Nijjar came to Canada claiming he was beaten and tortured by the Indian police over his brother’s arrest as India saw an armed conflict between the Indian government and Sikh separatists in the 1980s and early 1990s. 

Nijjar was also arrested in 1995 in India, as per the report, which also his refugee claim — where he used a fraudulent passport that identified him as “Ravi Sharma” — was denied by the Canadian authorities in 1998. 

Eleven days after his claim was rejected, Nijjar married a British Columbia woman who sponsored him to immigrate as his spouse, but his application was again turned down by Canadian immigration officials who termed it a “marriage of convenience”, according to the Global News report cited above. 

The Khalistani leader advocated for a referendum on Khalistan and called for anti-Sikh violence in India to be recognised as “genocide”.

Nijjar was accused as a “key conspirator” by Interpol in 2016 for a 2007 bombing of a cinema in Punjab. He was accused of recruiting and fundraising, a charge that Nijjar vehemently denied.

In 2020, India designated him a ‘terrorist’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and the National Investigation Agency attached his property in the country soon after, news agency PTI reported.

An Interpol Red Corner Notice was issued against Nijjar in 2016, and he was also put under house arrest in 2018 by the Surrey police on the suspicion of his involvement in terror activities, thouigh he was released later.

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