Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh independence advocate, was called a human rights activist by Sikh organisations and a criminal by India's Government. He was killed in June, sparking tension between India and Canada.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh independence advocate whose killing two months ago is at the centre of a widening breach between India and Canada, was called a human rights activist by Sikh organisations and a criminal by India’s Government.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on September 18 that his government was investigating “credible allegations” that Indian Government agents were linked to the June 18 slaying, when Nijjar was gunned down outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, British Columbia.
India has denied any role in the killing, calling the allegations absurd.
Nijjar, 45 when he died, was a prominent member of a movement to create an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, and was organising an unofficial referendum among the Sikh diaspora with the organisation Sikhs For Justice.
He also owned a plumbing business and served as president of a Sikh temple or gurdwara in suburban Vancouver, where banners hung with his face promoting the referendum on September 19. In a 2016 interview with the Vancouver Sun he responded dismissively to reports in Indian media that he was suspected of leading a terrorist cell.
“This is garbage — all the allegations. I am living here 20 years, right? Look at my record. There is nothing. I am a hard worker. I own my own business in the plumbing,” Nijjar told the newspaper. At the time, he said he was too busy to take part in diaspora politics.
Following his death, the World Sikh Organisation of Canada called Nijjar an outspoken supporter of Khalistan who “often led peaceful protests against the violation of human rights actively taking place in India and in support of Khalistan”.