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Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Whose Murder In Canada Has Triggered Tensions With India

Nijjar was declared as a designated terrorist by India in 2020.Despite several requests made by India to seek action against Khalistani terrorists, Canadian government did not pay heed, further embittering relations between the two nations.

Protest over shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations against India in regards with the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar- wanted Khalistani terrorist, in June, catapulted bitter exchange between India and Canada. Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force was shot dead outside a Gurudwara by two unidentified assailants, on June 18. 

Trudeau on Monday underlined a possible link between agents of the Indian government and Nijjar’s assassination, which eventually led to the expulsion of an Indian diplomat from Canada. 

“Over the past number of weeks Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” he said.

“Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” he added. 

Trudeau said Canada had conveyed its concerns to the Indian government at the G20 Summit, and “I continue to ask with a great deal of firmness that the government of India co-operate with Canada to shed light on this situation.”

“We urge the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” said the statement issued by the MEA in response to the allegations made.  

Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar 

According to a report from the Global, Hardeep had moved to Canada in 1997 with the help of a hoax Canadian passport. Nijjar, who hails from Punjab went to Canada to become a plumber. Nijjar hailed from Bharsingh Pura village in Jalandhar. Nijjar moved to Canada in 1996 and started working as a plumber. However, his profile as a plumber did not yield a desirable monetary income. Later when his refugee claim got rejected, he also got married to a woman- with whom he also has two sons, who sponsored his immigration, however that too got rejected. While on lookout for additional sources of income Nijjar came in contact with Babbar Khalsa International under the leadership of Jagtar Singh Tara in late 2000s. In 2011 Hardeep founded The Khalistan Tiger Force, ostensibly replicating the Babbar Khalsa International.

According to the Indian government  Nijjar was involved in the operationalisation and networking of the organisation, and the training and financing of its members.He was also an active participant in Sikhs For Justice, another separatist outfit headed by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. He reportedly held number 2 position in the SFJ. He even had many FIRs registered against him in India. Nijjar was also on the most wanted list of the NIA. Despite several requests made by India to seek action against Khalistani terrorists, Canadian government did not pay heed, further embittering relations between the two nations. Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh even handed over a list of wanted persons to Justin Trudeau, the list included Nijjar’s name as well. Nijjar was declared as a designated terrorist by India in 2020. In 2022 The Punjab Police sought Nijjar’s extradition owing to his links with terror outfits and several cases of spreading terrorism in the state. Nijjar was wanted in several cases, including the 2007 blast that killed 6 and injured 42 in Ludhiana, Punjab. 

The Punjab Police filed a case against Nijjar for his alleged role in the blast near a temple in Patiala, in 2010. UK based Paramjit Singh Pamma, also a wanted terrorist was another of the main accused in the case. 

Another case in 2015 was filed against Nijjar for his alleged role in “targeting Hindu leaders” and another case was lodged in 2016 for his alleged "involvement in the training and funding of Mandeep Dhaliwal and hatching a conspiracy to kill "Hindu leaders”. A Look Out Circular (LOC) and a Red Corner Notice (RCN) were also issued against the Nijjar in 2015 and 2016. The National Investigation Agency said it was probing Nijjar’s involvement in the killing of RSS leaders in Punjab, in 2018. In 2022, NIA even declared a Rs 10 lakh reward on Nijjar following his accusation in the conspiracy to kill a Hindu priest in Punjab's Jalandhar. 

Ensuing Tension Between India and Canada 

India on Tuesday expelled a senior Canadian diplomat to India in response to Canada’s move to expel a senior Indian diplomat. The move followed after India rejected PM Trudeau’s charge that India played a role in Nijjar’s assassination, as “absurd and motivated”

Cameron Mackay, Canadian High Commissioner to India was beckoned today to the South Block the headquarters of Ministry of External Affairs. "The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India,” said a statement issued by  the Ministry of External Affairs, today.

"The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days. The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities," it said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Monday said an Indian diplomat in Canada had been expelled, Joly said that the Canadian government had expelled the Indian diplomat over allegations of the country's involvement in the murder of the Khalistani leader. 

“We see this possible breach of sovereignty as completely unacceptable, and so, that is also why we’re coming (out) with this information (of the expulsion of the Indian diplomat) today,” she said at a news conference.

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Meanwhile, India rejected allegations made by Trudeau in the Canadian Parliament. “We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister” the MEA said in an official statement.

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