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‘Nijjar ran terrorist training camps, visited Pakistan, and had contact with Khalistani terrorists’: Globe and Mail report shows how Canada protected a designated terrorist

On 22nd June, the Globe and Mail published a report on Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar whose murder was remembered with a minute of silence in Canadian Parliament. In the report, the news portal explained how Nijjar was not only involved in running terrorist camps but also visited Pakistan, was on the no-fly list in Canada, had contacts with Khalistani terrorists and was involved in anti-India activities.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a controversial figure. He was designated as a Khalistani terrorist by the Government of India. He was killed on 18th June 2023 in a possible gang war. However, the Canadian government blamed the Government of India and Indian agents for killing him. Notably, four persons who were arrested in his murder case in May 2024 were associated with the Lawrance Bishnoi Gang.

Nijjar was a Sikh separatist leader who propagated the demand for a separate Sikh nation, Khalistan. He was living in Surrey, British Columbia Canada and was chief of Guru Nanak Gurdwara.

Early life and influence of Khalistani terrorist

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was born in Punjab in the 1970s. During his early life, his family used to provide shelter and food to Khalistani terrorists who were on the run from the law enforcement agencies. Globe and Mail talked to his associates and old friends who confirmed that Nijjar was highly influenced by Khalistani ideology and supported a separate Sikh nation.

In 1995, then-Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh, was killed in a bomb blast. Following the assassination of the CM and 17 others by Khalistani terrorists, the law enforcement agencies came down heavy on the terrorists and their supporters. Nijjar escaped India and fled to Canada using the fake identity of a Hindu man. Ravi Sharma was the name on his passport. Reports revealed that he had trimmed his hair and beard to look like a Hindu man and conceal his Sikh identity.

After reaching Canada, he tried to get refugee status claiming he was tortured by the state police. However, as he consistently denied any involvement in Khalistani activities or association with armed terrorists, the immigration agencies did not provide him with refugee status. However, he continued to live in Canada and eventually was provided permanent residency followed by citizenship.

Life in Canada and association with Khalistani activities

With time, Nijjar became a significant figure within the local Sikh community. He ran a small plumbing business and became an active member of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara. Over the years, he developed deep relations with pro-Khalistani elements and got involved in anti-India activities.

In 2015, he was accused of running a terror training camp in British Columbia, a claim that he had denied. However, an investigation was initiated against him by the RCMP but he was never charged. RCMP officials claimed while speaking to Globe and Mail that if he was associated with any terror activities, they would have taken action against him.

Khalistan advocacy

Nijjar wanted a separate Sikh state, Khalistan in India. He repeatedly called for violence and armed revolt against Indian authorities. Globe and Mail got access to a video from 2021 in which he urged Sikhs to take up arma and criticised those who preferred peaceful activism. This stance solidified his reputation as a dangerous figure in the eyes of the Indian government. However, his supporters argue that his rhetoric was a reflection of the warrior imagery prevalent in Sikh culture rather than actual incitement to violence.

Nijjar was a close associate of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Khalistani terrorist and founder of the terrorist organisation Sikhs For Justice. Pannun poses as an advocate and practices law in New York. He was Nijjar’s counsel as well. Nijjar actively promoted the Khalistan Referendum that was initiated by Sikhs For Justice. Khalistan Referendum is a mock voting campaign initiated by Sikhs For Justice to show how many Sikhs around the world support the call for a separate Sikh nation.

India’s allegations against Hardeep Singh Nijjar

India has accused Nijjar of involvement in several violent incidents, including the 2007 bombing of a cinema in Ludhiana and an attempted murder in 2021. National Investigation Agency has named him in the case of the attempted murder of Hindu leader Kamaldeep Sharma.

In 2015, Indian agencies apprehended Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal who was a Surrey resident during his visit to India. A few days later, it was revealed that he was associated with a Khalistani terror training camp in Canada. He told Punjab police during interrogation that he had plans to carry out terror activities in Punjab and was sent by Nijjar to attack leaders of Sects. Furthermore, he informed the police that he was working with another terrorist to get arms and ammunition from Pakistan.

Globe and Mail talked to two people associated with Dhaliwal. They told on the condition of anonymity that Dhaliwal attended an arms training camp in 2015. Furthermore, five other Sikh radicals also took training at those camps. They were trained by Nijjar to operate weapons and GPS. They also learned how to communicate securely and did target practice at three different sites in the Lower Mainland.

Nijjar was also linked to gangster-turned-terrorist Arshdeep Singh Gill or Arsh Dala. He is the head of the Dala Lakhbir gang which uses Canada as a base for running an extortion ring in Punjab.

Hardeep Singh NIjjar visited Pakistan

In 1995, Jagtar Singh Tara, a Khalistani terrorist, was convicted and sentenced to life in the Beant Singh murder case. In 2004, he dug a 94-foot tunnel by hand and escaped from prison. Tara managed to flee to Pakistan where he spent years managing the terrorist group Khalistan Commando Force and its sister organisation Khalistan Tiger Force.

In 2013, Nijjar went to Pakistan and spent time with Tara. There are photographs available in the public domain where Nijjar was seen with Tara on the top of a Gurdwara in Pakistan. The t-shirt he was wearing in that photograph was the same one he was wearing in another photograph carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. According to Globe and Mail, the group photograph was taken outside Lahore in a Gurdwara. Another Sikh man from Surrey had gone with Nijjar whose daughter confirmed that the photograph was genuine.

Tara then appointed Nijjar to take over KTF. However, the Globe and Mail report claimed that Nijjar refused the offer. Later, in 2015, he told a group of senior Sikh community members that he was not “dumb enough” to take charge of a terrorist organisation in Canada. Contrary to this report, India has repeatedly accused Nijjar of being chief of KTF. KTF organised prayers for him after his death making it evident that Nijjar was associated with the terror outfit.

Assassination and diplomatic fallout

On 18th June 2023, Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed by two gunmen as he was leaving the Gurdwara. His death prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to claim that there were credible allegations of Indian government involvement. It led to a major diplomatic crisis between Canada and India. This accusation has been vehemently denied by Indian officials. India has repeatedly requested credible evidence of Indian agents’ involvement but Canada has failed to provide any. India has time and again called out Canada for allowing anti-India terrorist elements to flourish under Canadian political support.

While Canada accuses India of killing a Khalistani terrorist on Canadian soil, Canada’s own media houses are coming out with proof that he was indeed involved in terrorist activities. These reports are coming at a time when Canada remembered him with a minute of silence in its Parliament days ago.

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Anurag
Anurag
B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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