Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead at a gurdwara in Surrey in Canada’s British Columbia province on Sunday. He was a designated terrorist in India and carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh.
Nijjar was shot dead by two unidentified persons who fled from the spot. The gurdwara he was shot at was presided by Nijjar himself for the past four years, according to PTI.
Nijjar was the head of proscribed Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), one of the organisations committed to the cause of Khalistan, which refers to the separate nation for Sikhs carved out of India. For decades, the supporters of Khalistan waged a bloody insurgency in Punjab which finally ebbed in 1990s.
While the insurgency ebbed in India, support for Khalistan remains high abroad, particularly in Canada and the United Kingdom.
What do we know about Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing?
On Sunday night, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in a gurudwara, of which he was the President, in Canada’s British Columbia province by two men. He was killed at around 8:30 pm while he was inside his car in the parking lot of the gurudwara. After shooting him, the two attackers ran away from the scene, according to witnesses.
The Vancouver Sun reported that Nijjar was found dead on the scene when the police reached there.
The Vancouver Sun reported, “Upon attendance, police found an adult male inside a vehicle suffering from apparent gunshot wounds and provided medical assistance until Emergency Health Services arrived on the scene. The man died of his injuries at the scene. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team had been called in. Police are still working to determine possible suspect descriptions from multiple witnesses who were in the area.”
What’s Hardeep Singh Nijjar accused of?
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 46, went to Canada in 1997 to be a plumber, but soon became the chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), an extremist militant group. In India, he is designated terrorist and is wanted in cases.
Nijjar is not the first separatist to have been killed in the last two months. Paramjit Singh Panjwar —also known Malik Sardar Singh— and Avtar Singh Kannada have also been killed recently.
A report in The Print says that Nijjar was one of the people responsible for recruiting and training the KTF and he also participated in the activities of the banned separatist organisation Sikhs For Justice (SFJ).
“He played a key role in promoting the secessionist agenda and represented the SFJ in Canada. In fact, he was a close associate of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the founder of SFJ, and was promoting the Referendum 2020 campaign at their behest in Brampton,” sources were quoted as saying by The Print.
Nijjar is also accused in four cases filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The NIA had offered Rs 10 lakh as a reward for anyone who turned him in.
In 2020, Nijjar was declared a terrorist by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and his name was on the wanted list that the then-Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh gave to Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, when he visited India.
According to The Indian Express, it is speculated that Nijjar knew of his fate. Following the murder of Paramjit Singh Panjwar, Nijjar told the Canadian radio that “a list had been prepared with his name on it”. Kanwar Pal Singh of the Dal Khalsa (Sikh Army) said, “Nijjar had delivered a speech at the gurudwara just before he was shot dead. In that speech, he had said that any day could be his last day. He had been saying this on every stage for some time.”