Pro-Khalistan leader Nijjar's killing poses tricky questions for Canadian security
Updated Jun 20, 2023
The targeted killing of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the president of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara who was shot dead in Surrey, British Columbia, has thrown up many tricky questions for Canadian security agencies.
Nijjar, 45, who was designated as a terrorist by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last year and carried a prize of Rs 10 lakhs on his head, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen while leaving the gurdwara at about 8.30 p.m. on Sunday.
Nijjar, who came to Canada from Bhar Singh Pura village in Jalandhar in 1997, was also the main leader of the pro-Khalistan referendum in Canada along with New York-based Sikhs for Justice leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
Just days before his murder, Nijjar told a local Punjabi channel that he had been informed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that there was a threat to his life.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), which has taken over the investigation, will have to unravel whether the killing of the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) leader was a result of local feuds or the handiwork of other elements.
In a media briefing on Monday, IHIT's Timothy Pierotti said: "We understand there is a lot of speculation regarding the motive of this homicide, but we are dedicated to learning the facts and letting the evidence lead our investigation."
He said the investigation team would work with the country's spy agency to unravel the case. "We're working hard to speak to every person and collect the facts of this case. And we'll determine the motive that way."
There have also been reports about an encrypted online site seeking to hire hitmen to target Nijjar.
Another angle doing the rounds is that it could be a case of revenge killing for the July 2022 murder of Ripudaman Singh Malik, the Air India bombing accused.
Malik was also killed by two gunmen outside his Surrey office.
Nijjar was at loggerheads with Malik over the printing of the holy Sikh scripture by the latter at his own printing press in Surrey.
Moreover, Malik's praise for the Narendra Modi government in India had also angered pro-Khalistan leaders.
For their part, some pro-Khalistan organisations have alleged that Nijjar was targeted by Indian agencies.