Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar? Murder Mystery of the Sikh Activist Souring India Canada Relationship

The relationship between the two countries, India and Canada, is getting sour with the recent statement of the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau making allegations about India for the involvement in the murder of Sikh Activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar

His murder in Canada in June has sparked fresh diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and New Delhi, with Canada alleging that India was involved in the crime and India dismissing the claims as “absurd.”

So those who might be wondering who is Hardeep Singh Nijjar and how he died? Here is everything we know so far about him. 

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?

Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was originally from a hamlet near Jalandhar, had been living in Canada for a while. In Surrey, British Columbia, he held the position of temple president for the Sikhs. Nijjar was the head of the Sikhs for Justice chapter in Canada and was charged by the Indian government with being the leader of the pro-Khalistan group Khalistan Tiger Force. The organization demanded a separate Sikh state of Khalistan. 

The Indian government charged Nijjar with carrying out numerous targeted killings there, although he alleged that he was falsely accused of crimes by the Indian authorities.

Hardeep Singh Nijra was labelled a “terrorist” in India in July 2020 as a result of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seized his assets there in September 2020.

He is accused by the NIA of planning the killing of a Hindu priest in Punjab. They also offered a $16,200 reward for information that resulted in his capture.

What caused Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s death?

On June 18, 2023, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Nijjar was shot and killed in his truck on June 18, 2023, in the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara’s parking lot in Surrey by two masked gunmen. He was 45 at the time of his death, and so far, no arrest has been made in connection with his murder by the Canadian government. 

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?
Source: Reuters

Following his assassination, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the Indian consulate in Vancouver, claiming that foreign agents were responsible for his passing, according to local media at the time.

India Canada Souring Relationship Timeline

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, believes that substantial evidence links the June murder of Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar to the Indian government. His statement on Monday caused a rift between Ottawa and New Delhi. 

Following a contentious exchange with Mr Modi last week at the G20 summit in India, Mr Modi accused Canada of not doing enough to halt “anti-India activities of extremist elements,” a reference to the Sikh separatists. Mr. Trudeau’s remarks come in the wake of that exchange.

One of the largest Sikh diaspora communities in the world resides in Canada, which is also the scene of Sikh agitation that has angered the Indian government. The Khalistan movement, one of these activist groups, aims to create Khalistan, an autonomous Sikh nation in India.

Also recently inactive for Canada was a free trade pact with India. India provided little specifics as to why but stated that “certain political developments” were to blame.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs denied the Canadian accusations as “absurd.”

The ministry said, “We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to the rule of law.”

According to the report, Canada was harbouring “Khalistani terrorists and extremists” who endangered India’s security.

The ministry demanded that all anti-Indian organizations operating on Canadian soil face swift and severe legal action.

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