Hardeep Singh Nijjar has emerged the fresh point of standoff between India and Canada months after he was gunned down outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, British Columbia. Since his killing in June, Canada has been investigating the case and now the Canadian government accused India of carrying out the killing. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed to have ‘credible allegations’ that Nijjar’s killing was linked to ‘agents of the Government of India’. With this allegation, Canada also expelled a senior Indian diplomat. Canadian foreign minister Mélanie Joly accused the diplomat of being as the head of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Canada. While India has rejected the allegation, in a tit-for-tat move, New Delhi also expelled a senior Canadian diplomat for interference in India’s internal matters and involvement in anti-India activities.
Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?
Nijjar had affiliations with the banned Khalistani separatist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), holding the ‘Number 2’ position after Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Originally from Bharsingh Pura village in Jalandhar, he relocated to Canada in 1996 and pursued a career as a plumber.
His association with terrorism commenced during his membership in Babbar Khalsa International under the leadership of Jagtar Singh Tara. Subsequently, Nijjar founded his own organization, Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). He played a substantial role in identifying, connecting, training, and financing Khalistani cells in India, resulting in over 10 FIRs being filed against him.
In 2014, Nijjar orchestrated the assassination of self-proclaimed spiritual leader Baba Bhaniara. Following this, in 2015, he organized a training camp in Canada to instruct Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal. Mandeep was later sent to Punjab with the mission of targeting Shiv Sena leaders and was apprehended in June 2016.
By November 2020, Nijjar had formed a partnership with fellow criminal Arsh Dalla, who also resided outside India. Together, they were implicated in the murder of Manohar Lal, a follower of the Dera Sacha Sauda, which occurred at Lal’s office in Bhagta Bhai Ka, Bathinda, in 2021.
In the previous year, India declared a monetary reward of Rs 10 lakh over Nijjar for his involvement in the murder of a Hindu priest in Jalandhar. Additionally, Nijjar faced accusations related to the 2007 bombing of a cinema in Punjab. Hardeep Singh Nijjar found his name on the Indian government’s “designated terrorists” list in 2018, where he was alleged to be associated with plotting and supporting terrorist activities against India.