hardeep singh nijjar

hardeep singh nijjar

Canada has leveled accusations at India, alleging its involvement in the assassination of a Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, on Canadian soil. This incident has further exacerbated the already strained relations between the two nations. But who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and what role did he play in these escalating tensions?

hardeep singh nijjar
image credit: hindustantimes

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was born in the district of Jalandhar in the North Indian state of Punjab. In 1997, as a young man, he made the move to Canada, where he built a life for himself. He married, became a father of two sons, and pursued a career as a plumber.

hardeep singh nijjar

Residing in the province of British Columbia, Nijjar gained recognition as a vocal advocate for the establishment of Khalistan, a proposed independent homeland for Sikhs, a religious minority constituting 2% of India’s population. However, India had labeled him a terrorist and accused him of various activities, including being the alleged “mastermind” behind the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), a banned militant group within the country.

hardeep singh nijjar

Tragedy struck when, at the age of 45, Nijjar was fatally shot by two assailants dressed in dark attire with hoods outside a Sikh temple in a Vancouver suburb during a June summer evening this year. Eyewitnesses described how bullets shattered the windows of his gray pickup truck, with Nijjar behind the wheel. Nearby individuals initially mistook the gunfire for fireworks, only to realize it was the sound of gunshots. Some even gave chase, reporting that the suspects sped away in a waiting car. Unfortunately, Nijjar succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Individuals close to him revealed that Canadian intelligence services had warned him of being on a “hit list” before his untimely death. However, India vehemently denied any involvement in the assassination, dismissing the allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “absurd.”

hardeep singh nijjar

To his supporters, Nijjar, who had become a Canadian citizen in 2007, was a peaceful advocate for Sikh independence in British Columbia, deeply committed to his community. A substantial memorial was erected in his honor outside the Surrey Gurdwara doors where he had served as president, and his funeral drew hundreds of mourners.

“He was so full of energy,” reminisced Doug McCallum, the former mayor of Surrey, when speaking about Nijjar’s dedication to community betterment. “I remember he used to pester me all the time to get a volleyball for the youth in the community and to widen the walkway so that people can get exercise.”

However, in India, Nijjar was a wanted man under India’s Terrorist Act, facing charges in several cases, including the 2007 cinema bombing in Punjab that resulted in six fatalities and 40 injuries, as well as the 2009 assassination of Sikh Indian politician Rulda Singh.

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