Hardeep Singh Nijjar, The Khalistani Sympathiser Whose Murder Is At Center Of Tensions Between India, Canada

Khalistani sympathiser Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder in June this year has now sparked new tensions between India and Canada as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated “credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep. Singh Nijjar” at the house of commons. Further turning the ties sour between the two countries, Ottawa also expelled a top Indian diplomat in connection with the matter. Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan leader, was shot dead 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.

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Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar 

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, moved from India to Canada in 1997 and worked as a plumber. He was also President of a Sikh temple in Surrey, BC and a close associate of a prominent Khalistan separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founder of the secessionist Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) – a proscribed organization. 

Nijjar was involved in threatening to kill Indian diplomats posted in the UK, Canada and Australia and was wanted by India for his alleged involvement in leading the Khalistan separatist movement.

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 of creating a separate country carved out of India’s Punjab.

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

According to a Global News 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, adding his refugee claim — where he used a fraudulent passport that identified him as “Ravi Sharma.” — was denied in 1998 by Canadian authorities. 

11 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 recognized 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.