The Sikh separatist whose killing in British Columbia this summer season has out of the blue set off a serious diplomatic dispute between Canada and India was a distinguished advocate of the creation of an unbiased nation, Khalistan, that would come with components of India’s Punjab State.
The separatist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, had moved to Canada within the mid-1990s, according to Indian news reports, after a interval by which the Indian authorities was cracking down on the Sikh motion.
A long time later, the Indian authorities declared him a terrorist, accusing him of plotting a violent assault in India linked to his advocacy. And in June, two masked assailants killed him in entrance of a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, a metropolis on the border with Washington.
Mr. Nijjar was born within the district of Jalandhar within the North Indian state of Punjab. In Canada, he married, had two sons, labored as a plumber and have become the president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, a temple in Surrey, in 2020.
Earlier than finally gaining entry to Canada, the Canadian news outlet Global News reported, Mr. Nijjar had made an unsuccessful try to maneuver to the nation: submitting an software as a refugee, which the Canadian authorities stated was partly fabricated, and, 11 days later, marrying a girl who sponsored him, an try the federal government additionally rejected.
The Indian authorities declared Mr. Nijjar a terrorist in 2020, saying it had proof that he was “concerned in exhorting seditionary and insurrectionary imputations and in addition trying to create disharmony amongst completely different communities in India.” The federal government stated he led a terrorist group banned in India, Khalistan Tiger Force.
In a separate criticism in 2018, India’s premier investigative company accused him of “conspiring and planning to hold out a serious terrorist assault in India.” It additionally alleged that he deliberate to violently assault gatherings of the nationalist right-wing group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Final 12 months, Indian information shops reported that an Indian investigative company had provided a $12,000 reward for his arrest.
A Canadian journalist to whom Mr. Nijjar gave his final interview, Gurpreet Singh, painted a special image, chatting with the independent Indian news outlet The Wire about a few of Mr. Nijjar’s group actions as a non secular chief.
Mr. Nijjar held particular prayers for “Muslims killed within the Christchurch bombings in 2019 in New Zealand,” Mr. Singh stated, and for Indigenous kids after the discovery of unmarked graves of scholars at Canadian residential colleges. Mr. Nijjar, he stated, additionally argued for the discharge of a detained Indian human rights defender who used a wheelchair.
In Punjab, politicians and a journalist stated that regardless of India’s costs towards him, Mr. Nijjar and his motion have been little recognized.
“He went away a few years in the past, and no one both remembers him right here nor do they discuss him,” stated Raman Arora, a legislator from the ruling get together in Jalandhar. “The Khalistan motion has been lifeless right here for many years.”
A veteran Punjabi journalist, Jagtar Singh, additionally stated that Mr. Nijjar “was and is completely unknown right here” and that, in a long time of overlaying Punjab, he “had by no means heard of or about him.”
Vineet Joshi, a Bharatiya Janata chief in Punjab, agreed that Mr. Nijjar was little recognized within the area at present, and he blamed the Canadian authorities for encouraging individuals who harbored sentiments that he referred to as anti-India.
“Canada has grow to be a hub of Khalistan actions, anti-India and a conspiracy to interrupt India,” Mr. Joshi stated. “ There’s freedom of speech there — no drawback. However you can not discuss concerning the disintegration of one other nation. Now, when Indian authorities increase objections, they’re ignored by the Canadians.”
He additionally had a message for Canada: “They should perceive that this isn’t the identical India. It’s a lot stronger underneath the management of Modi.”
Again in British Columbia, at a memorial on Monday night time for Mr. Nijjar, his son Balraj Singh Nijjar referred to as on the Canadian prime minister to rally with allies and “put extra stress” on the Indian authorities. Mr. Nijjar’s loss of life continues to be a contemporary wound for the household, he added, chatting with reporters exterior the temple.
“He had even referred to as residence like 5 minutes earlier than it occurred to get dinner prepared,” his son stated. “It was form of an enormous shock.”
Vjosa Isai contributed reporting from Toronto.