Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar? Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Accuses India Of Killing Khalistani Leader

Who Was Hardeep Singh Nijjar? Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Accuses India Of Killing Khalistani Leader

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in June this year and had been a vocal supporter of the separatist ideology Khalistan, which essentially demands the separation of the state of Punjab from India.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, September 19, 2023, 01:50 PM IST
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Hardeep Singh Nijjar | File

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, speaking in the House of Commons, alleged that India was involved in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Hardeep was shot dead in June this year and had been a vocal suppporter of the separatist ideology Khalistan, which essentially demands the separation of the state of Punjab from India.

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was born in Bharsinghpur village in Punjab's Jalandhar and later migrated to Canada in 1995. Over the years, he became a controversial and notorious individual due to his involvement in acts of violence, subversive activities, and his affiliation with banned separatist organizations.

Based in Canada, Nijjar had been evading authorities for his alleged involvement in terrorist activities in India. The NIA had filed a chargesheet against him for his role in conspiring and carrying out terrorist acts against India.

Nijjar was implicated in several high-profile acts of violence, including the Shingar Cinema bomb blast in Ludhiana in 2007 and the assassination of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat President Rulda Singh in Patiala in 2009.

Association with Khalistan Movement

Nijjar was actively involved in the Khalistan movement, which sought the establishment of an independent Sikh state in Punjab, India. He played a significant role in organizing the Khalistan Referendum in Brampton, Ontario.

Nijjar was associated with Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a separatist organization banned in India. He was accused of being involved in terrorist acts in Punjab, and the Indian government had previously requested Canadian authorities to act against him.

He was declared a 'wanted terrorist' by the Indian government, and his name appeared on a list of designated terrorists along with 40 others. In 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) offered a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information leading to Nijjar's arrest. He was accused of conspiring to murder a Hindu priest in Jalandhar, Punjab, with the conspiracy attributed to the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), of which Nijjar served as the chief.

Association with Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF): In 2011, Nijjar was introduced to Jagtar Singh Tara, the supremo of the Pakistan-based Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), and switched his allegiance to the newly formed KTF. He allegedly received training in the fabrication of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the handling of high-end firearms during visits to Pakistan.

Nijjar reportedly provided financial support to Jagtar Singh Tara and assisted in his relocation from Pakistan to Thailand in 2014. He also allegedly trained Sikh youths in Canada in the use of firearms and sent them to India with the intent to target senior police officials and religious leaders.

Involvement in Organized Crime

Apart from his involvement in separatist activities, Nijjar formed an alliance with Punjabi gangster Arshdeep Singh Gill, known as Arsh Dala. He ventured into organized financial crimes in both Punjab and Canada to finance his terror plans, making him a target of rival criminal gangs operating in the Surrey-Delta area.

Nijjar led an intimidatory campaign against Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh, forcing the latter to cancel his visit to Canada. Nijjar was also suspected of involvement in the assassination of Ripudaman Malik.

There were frequent allegations that funds from the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, of which Nijjar was the president, were being embezzled for funding terror activities in Punjab.

India rejects claims

Meanwhile, the Indian government has denied the “absurd” accusations. In the statement, the MEA said, "Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

"The inaction of the Canadian government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern. That Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a matter of deep concern. The space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organised crime is not new. We reject any attempts to connect Government of India to such developments. We urge the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil," the MEA added. 

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