Hardeep Singh Nijjar: Khalistani leader shot dead inside gurdwara in Canada

A fugitive Sikh separatist wanted by India’s government was shot dead by two unidentified men at a temple in Canada.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force, reportedly carried a bounty of Rs 1m (£9,526) for information leading to his arrest over the 2021 killing of a Hindu priest in Pujab 2021.

Nijjar, 46, was accused of training and funding members of the separatist group, and had been declared a terrorist by India.

He was found dead inside a car with bullet wounds in the parking lot of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surry, British Columbia, at 8.30pm local time on Sunday.

The Khalistan movement is a Sikh secessionist movement that calls for a separate homeland for the religious community to be carved out of India’s Punjab state.

On Sunday, a group of Sikhs raised pro-Khalistan banners and staged a roadblock in front of the gurdwara.

India’s National Investigative Agency had filed a first information report and declared a bounty against Nijjar for his separatist activities. The cash reward announcement in July last year came nearly three weeks after the investigative agency filed a charge sheet against him and three others in connection with the attack on a Hindu priest.

He was also associated with another separatist group, Sikh for Justice.

His name was included in the list of wanted men and was handed over to Justin Trudeau during the prime minister’s visit to India in 2018, the Indian Express reported.

New Delhi this month hit out at Canada for allowing a float in a parade depicting the 1984 assassination of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, perceived to be glorification of violence by Sikh separatists.

“I think there is a larger underlying issue about the space which is given to separatists, to extremists, to people who advocate violence,” foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told reporters.

“I think it is not good for relationships, not good for Canada,” he said.

Canada is home to the highest population of Sikhs outside India’s Punjab state.

Earlier this year India summoned Canada’s high commissioner to convey concern over pro-Khalistan protesters in Canada who breached the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates.

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