British Columbia: An overnight shooting incident was reported at the residence of Simranjeet Singh, an aide of India-designated Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, prompting an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Force (RCMP). The police in Surrey responded to reports of gunshots after 1:20 am (Canadian time) on Thursday, reported CBC News.
Notably, Nijjar was a pro-Khalistani separatist who was gunned down by unidentified assailants outside his residence in Surrey in June last year. His death became the centre of an ugly diplomatic spat between India and Canada, after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged India’s involvement behind his killing, which New Delhi rejected as “absurd” and “politically-motivated”.
Corporal Sarbjit Sangha of the Surrey RCMP said officers in the area spoke to neighbours and witnesses, and are currently reviewing CCTV footage to find out more about the shooting. No individuals were injured in the incident, although a car was found heavily damaged by gunfire, along with multiple bullet holes in Simranjeet’s house itself.
Simranjeet organised pro-Khalistan protest in Vancover
Sangha did not confirm how many shots were fired into the house, and said police believe the incident was isolated in nature. “The investigation is in, still, very early stages so the motive of this shooting has not been determined as of this time,” she said.
A spokesperson for the British Columbia Gurdwaras Council, Moninder Singh said community members believe Simranjeet’s connections with Nijjar played a role in the shooting. He said the “brazen middle of the night” attack nearly claimed the life of Simranjeet’s six-year-old child, adding that he had been in touch with the police due to fears for his life. Moninder said Simranjeet organised a pro-Khalistan protest at the Indian consulate in Vancouver on January 26.
Nijjar probe in Canada
Meanwhile, Trudeau’s former national security adviser Jody Thomas earlier said India is cooperating with Canada on the probe surrounding the death of Nijjar and bilateral relations between the two countries are improving. “I wouldn’t describe them (the Indians) as not cooperating. I think we’ve made advancements in that relationship,” she said.
“The information that they (the Americans) revealed supported our position and our assertions with India, and India is working with us … far more closely to resolve this,” Thomas told CTV News. Trudeau earlier mentioned that India’s relations with Canada may have undergone “a tonal shift” in the days after an alleged conspiracy to kill India-designated Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US emerged.
The acrimony between India and Canada has delayed discussions on a free-trade deal and threatened Ottawa’s plans to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region, where New Delhi’s cooperation is critical to efforts to check an increasingly assertive China. “Our ability to function in the Indo-Pacific does rely on having a healthy relationship with India. And I think that we are working back towards that,” Thomas said.