Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar? Canada Says India Was Behind His Killing

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada accused Indian agents of engagement successful the sidesplitting of a Sikh separatist successful British Columbia. Who was he?

Protesters shouting and holding flags basal   adjacent   a ample  photograph   of  Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
A photograph of Hardeep Singh Nijjar aft his decease successful June, during a protestation extracurricular the Consulate General of India successful Vancouver.Credit...Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Suhasini Raj

Sept. 19, 2023, 1:11 p.m. ET

The Sikh separatist whose sidesplitting successful British Columbia this summertime has abruptly acceptable disconnected a large diplomatic quality betwixt Canada and India was a salient advocator of the instauration of an autarkic nation, Khalistan, that would see parts of India’s Punjab State.

The separatist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, had moved to Canada successful the mid-1990s, according to Indian quality reports, aft a play successful which the Indian authorities was cracking down connected the Sikh movement.

Decades later, the Indian authorities declared him a terrorist, accusing him of plotting a convulsive onslaught successful India linked to his advocacy. And successful June, 2 masked assailants killed him successful beforehand of a Sikh temple successful Surrey, British Columbia, a metropolis connected the borderline with Washington.

Mr. Nijjar was calved successful the territory of Jalandhar successful the North Indian authorities of Punjab. In Canada, helium married, had 2 sons, worked arsenic a plumber and became the president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, a temple successful Surrey, successful 2020.

Before yet gaining introduction to Canada, the Canadian quality outlet Global News reported, Mr. Nijjar had made an unsuccessful effort to determination to the country: filing an exertion arsenic a refugee, which the Canadian authorities said was partially fabricated, and, 11 days later, marrying a pistillate who sponsored him, an effort the authorities besides rejected.

The Indian authorities declared Mr. Nijjar a violent successful 2020, saying it had grounds that helium was “involved successful exhorting seditionary and insurrectionary imputations and besides attempting to make disharmony among antithetic communities successful India.” The authorities said helium led a violent enactment banned successful India, Khalistan Tiger Force.

In a abstracted ailment successful 2018, India’s premier investigative bureau accused him of “conspiring and readying to transportation retired a large violent onslaught successful India.” It besides alleged that helium planned to violently onslaught gatherings of the nationalist right-wing enactment Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Last year, Indian quality outlets reported that an Indian investigative bureau had offered a $12,000 reward for his arrest.

A Canadian writer to whom Mr. Nijjar gave his past interview, Gurpreet Singh, painted a antithetic picture, speaking to the autarkic Indian quality outlet The Wire astir immoderate of Mr. Nijjar’s assemblage activities arsenic a spiritual leader.

Mr. Nijjar held peculiar prayers for “Muslims killed successful the Christchurch bombings successful 2019 successful New Zealand,” Mr. Singh said, and for Indigenous children aft the discovery of unmarked graves of students astatine Canadian residential schools. Mr. Nijjar, helium said, besides argued for the merchandise of a detained Indian human rights defender who utilized a wheelchair.

In Punjab, politicians and a writer said that contempt India’s charges against him, Mr. Nijjar and his question were small known.

“He went distant galore years ago, and cipher either remembers him present nor bash they speech astir him,” said Raman Arora, a legislator from the ruling enactment successful Jalandhar. “The Khalistan question has been dormant present for decades.”

A seasoned Punjabi journalist, Jagtar Singh, besides said that Mr. Nijjar “was and is wholly chartless here” and that, successful decades of covering Punjab, helium “had ne'er heard of oregon astir him.”

Vineet Joshi, a Bharatiya Janata person successful Punjab, agreed that Mr. Nijjar was small known successful the portion today, and helium blamed the Canadian authorities for encouraging radical who harbored sentiments that helium called anti-India.

“Canada has go a hub of Khalistan activities, anti-India and a conspiracy to interruption India,” Mr. Joshi said. “ There is state of code determination — nary problem. But you cannot speech astir the disintegration of different nation. Now, erstwhile Indian authorities rise objections, they are ignored by the Canadians.”

He besides had a connection for Canada: “They request to recognize that this is not the aforesaid India. It is overmuch stronger nether the enactment of Modi.”

Back successful British Columbia, astatine a memorial connected Monday nighttime for Mr. Nijjar, his lad Balraj Singh Nijjar called connected the Canadian premier curate to rally with allies and “put much pressure” connected the Indian government. Mr. Nijjar’s decease is inactive a caller coiled for the family, helium added, speaking to reporters extracurricular the temple.

“He had adjacent called location similar 5 minutes earlier it happened to get meal ready,” his lad said. “It was benignant of a large shock.”

Vjosa Isai contributed reporting from Toronto.

Suhasini Raj has worked for implicit a decennary arsenic an investigative writer with Indian and planetary quality outlets. Based successful the New Delhi bureau, she joined The Times successful 2014. More astir Suhasini Raj

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