New Delhi, September 19
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whose killing in June, has led to a diplomatic row between India and Canada, fled India in February 1997 using the name ‘Ravi Sharma’ on a fake passport.
Several terror-related incidents, including targeted killings in Punjab, are alleged to have been carried out by Nijjar. His name figured on the most-wanted list handed over by then Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in February 2018.
In April 2018, Nijjar, was briefly taken into custody but released without charge in Canada. A few months later, in January 2019, he was ‘elected unopposed’ to head Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, which has one of the largest memberships in Canada.
Canada’s 2018 Annual Report on the Threat of Terrorism had for the first time referred to ‘Khalistani extremism’ as a risk factor. Protests followed and Trudeau promised to ‘cleanse’ the reference to ‘Khalistan’.
Indian sources point out that Canada has failed to bring out any direct association of Indian authorities with Nijjar’s murder and hint at several factors at play, including the backdrop of Canadian citizen Ripudaman Singh Malik, acquitted of accusations for the Kanishka plane bombing of June 1985, getting murdered in Vancouver, Canada, in July this year.
Two accused, Tanner Fox, from Abbotsford, British Columbia and 23-year-old Jose Lopez, from the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster, were arrested for Malik’s murder.
Nijjar and Malik had disagreed in the past, notably, in 2020 over printing of Guru Granth Sahib by a society managed by Malik. Groups affiliated to Nijjar protested at the Khalsa school owned by Malik, who was asked to return the copies of the holy book. Nijjar was born in Punjab on November 10, 1977. Amidst a crackdown on the insurgency in Punjab, Nijjar’s brother was arrested in India in the early 1990s. In 1995, Nijjar was also arrested.
Nijjar on reaching Canada in 1997 filed for asylum claiming himself as a victim of police harassment in India. Marriage to a Canadian woman led to Nijjar getting Canadian citizenship and a passport.
In 2013-14, Nijjar visited Pakistan where he met Jagtar Singh Tara of Babbar Khalsa International who was accused of killing former Punjab CM Beant Singh. Indian sources said the ISI of Pakistan roped in Nijjar and helped him in organising training camps for extremist groups associated with Khalistan movement.
Recently, Nijjar was actively associated with Sikhs for Justice movement led by Gurpatwant Singh Pannu. In July 2020, Nijjar was declared an “individual terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Earlier, at Punjab Police’s request, Interpol issued a red corner notice against him in 2016 while the National Investigation Agency (NIA) announced a Rs 10 lakh bounty on his head in July last year.
Nov 10, 1977 Hardeep Singh Nijjar born at Bharsinghpura village in Phillaur
1995 Arrested amid crackdown on insurgency in Punjab
1997 Flees to Canada using fake passport, applies for asylum
2013-14 Visits Pakistan, meets Jagtar Singh Tara of Babbar Khalsa International
2016 Interpol issues red corner notice against him at Punjab Police’s request
2018 Name figures in Punjab’s ‘most wanted’ list given to Canada
2019 Elected to head Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara
2020 Declared “individual terrorist” under UAPA
2022 NIA announces Rs 10L bounty on his head
June 18, 2023 Nijjar shot dead in Surrey, British Columbia
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