Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Khalistan activist whose killing triggered a diplomatic row between India and Canada, had weekly meetings with Candian intelligence officials in the months before his death, his son Balraj Singh Nijjar told Canadian media.
According to a report in Candian news website National Observer, the 21-year-old son said that Hardeep Singh Nijjar used to meet with Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers “once or twice a week”. The meetings had started in February, he last met the officers one or two days before his death in British Columbia on June 18 this year and had a meeting scheduled two days later as well, the son said.
The father and son used to receive frequent death threats for advocating Sikh independence and Khalistan. Balraj told the outlet that he had also attended one of the meetings where his father met the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who had warned Nijjar of the threat to his life and advised him to stay at home.
"We weren't worried about safety because we weren't doing anything wrong. We were just using freedom of speech," he told National Observer.
Canada Granted Nijjar Citizenship
Notably, Canada had granted Nijjar his long-pending citizenship months after a Red Corner Notice (RCN) was issued against him in 2014. As per Interpol, a country has to act on an RCN and arrest and deport the accused person. However, Canada seemingly ignored this and approved Nijjar's citizenship application.
In a post on ‘X’, Canada’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller said, “I can confirm that Nijjar became a Canadian citizen on March 3, 2015. I hope this dispels the baseless rumours that he was not a Canadian.”
He later posted that Nijjar became a Canadian citizen on May 25, 2007. "The error in dates is my responsibility to assume. Again, nothing justifies the killing of Mr. Nijjar," he wrote. Miller's clarification is, however, is still under verification.
Nijjar was wanted in several cases, including the 2007 blast that killed 6 and injured 42 in Ludhiana, Punjab. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had put him on the most-wanted list.
In 2015, a case 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 him. Again in 2018, the NIA was probing Nijjar’s involvement in the killing of RSS leaders in Punjab. In 2022, the probe agency declared a Rs 10 lakh reward on Nijjar.
Meanwhile, India-Canada ties have come under some strain for the last few months due to the increasing activities of pro-Khalistani elements in Canada. India has time and again urged the Justin Trudeau government to address its concerns. The issue was also raised during the bilateral meeting between Trudeau and Modi in Delhi during the G20 Summit.
Earlier this week, the Canadian Prime Minister's allegations of "potential" involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of the Khalistani separatist unleashed a diplomatic row with India rejecting the charges as "absurd" and "motivated". India also kicked out a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of a senior Indian official.