Monday, July 22, 2024
ADVT 
National

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, slain B.C. Sikh leader at heart of diplomatic crisis?

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 20 Sep, 2023 10:52 AM
  • Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, slain B.C. Sikh leader at heart of diplomatic crisis?

On June 18, Hardeep Singh Nijjar phoned his eldest son for the last time, to say he was on his way home for dinner.

Baljar Singh Nijjar, 21, said his father had been in a good mood earlier that Father's Day, joking about the jeans Baljar and his younger brother had bought him as a gift.

"I'm on a diet, why did you give me this size, I'm not going to fit," Baljar recalled his father saying.

But a few minutes after the 8:20 p.m. call, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was dead, shot in his pickup truck by two masked gunmen in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, in Surrey, B.C.

Nijjar is now at the heart of a diplomatic crisis between India and Canada, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that intelligence services were investigating "credible" information about "a potential link" between India's government and the killing.

He's being remembered by family and supporters as a giving community activist. But in India, Nijjar was a wanted man, after authorities labelled him a terrorist in 2020.

Balraj Singh Nijjar said his father was “generous, outgoing and a jolly person.”

“I know, people have been saying that India labelled my father as a terrorist. But (the Indian government) tried to extradite my father, but the Canadian government had denied that request,” he said, calling the accusations “false news.”

He said his father had moved from India to Canada in 1997 and had worked as a plumber in B.C. for more than 20 years.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was also president of the Surrey gurdwara where he died, and a vocal supporter of the Khalistan movement that advocates for a separate Sikh homeland in India's Punjab province.

At the time of his death, he was organizing an unofficial referendum about Khalistan among the Sikh diaspora in B.C. with the organization Sikhs For Justice.

In 2016, Indian media reported that he was suspected of masterminding a bombing in the Sikh-majority state of Punjab and training terrorists in B.C. Last year, Indian authorities accused Nijjar of involvement in an alleged attack on a Hindu priest in India and announced a reward of about $16,000 for information leading to his arrest.

He denied the terrorism allegations and told the Vancouver Sun that he was too busy to participate in Sikh diaspora politics, calling the claims "garbage."

Balraj Singh Nijjar emphasized that his father was a Canadian citizen. Immigration Minister Marc Miller, aiming to “dispel the baseless rumours” about Nijjar’s citizenship, said on social media that Nijjar had indeed become Canadian in 2007.

Balraj said everyone at the temple remembered his father's "iconic laugh."

"Dad's personality was just so outgoing … it made us feel like there is someone here that you can talk to if you have any problems," he said.

He said the loss of his father hit his family "really hard."

On June 24, about 200 protesters gathered in front of the Indian Consulate in Vancouver to demonstrate against Nijjar's killing. They described him as “peaceful” and “humble” and dismissed allegations that he was connected to violence.

Many of the protesters were already convinced that Nijjar’s killing was linked to his calls for an independent Sikh state.

“He was a loving man, a hard-working man, a family man,” said Gurkeerat Singh, one of the protesters.

MORE National ARTICLES

Champagne, Freeland meet with grocery executives to discuss stabilizing price

Champagne, Freeland meet with grocery executives to discuss stabilizing price
Top executives from Canada's major grocery chains are in Ottawa this morning to meet with two federal cabinet ministers and discuss measures to stabilize grocery prices. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne are set to meet with executives from Loblaw, Metro, Empire, Walmart and Costco this morning.

Champagne, Freeland meet with grocery executives to discuss stabilizing price

Vancouver firefighter sent to hospital after roof collapses during fire

Vancouver firefighter sent to hospital after roof collapses during fire
A firefighter was injured after an aggressive fire in Vancouver's downtown early Saturday caused a ceiling to collapse onto him. Assistant fire chief Pierre Morin says the firefighter was taken to hospital with minor injuries, but has since been released.

Vancouver firefighter sent to hospital after roof collapses during fire

3 minor earthquakes near Port Hardy

3 minor earthquakes near Port Hardy
Earthquakes Canada said a 4.0 magnitude quake was registered around 8:20 a.m. local time. Its epicentre was 185 kilometres west of Port Hardy, north of Vancouver Island. This followed a 5.5 magnitude quake recorded at 4:30 a.m. and another 4.2 magnitude quake recorded about an hour and a half earlier near the same location.  

3 minor earthquakes near Port Hardy

Evacuation orders issued near Peachland, more than 400 wildfires burn across B.C.

Evacuation orders issued near Peachland, more than 400 wildfires burn across B.C.
An evacuation order has been issued for eight recreational properties due to the Glen Lake Wildfire, about 15 kilometres west of Peachland, B.C. The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre says it also issued an evacuation alert for all areas south of Peachland Forest Service Road from the 5 kilometre marker to the boundary between the Regional District of Central Okanagan and the Regional District of South Okanagan.  

Evacuation orders issued near Peachland, more than 400 wildfires burn across B.C.

Bonnie Henry talks drug decriminalization at start of B.C. municipalities convention

Bonnie Henry talks drug decriminalization at start of B.C. municipalities convention
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will be discussing drug decriminalization and public drug use in the opening session of the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention in Vancouver. More than 2,000 people are registered to attend the annual gathering of elected municipal leaders that concludes Friday with a speech by Premier David Eby.  

Bonnie Henry talks drug decriminalization at start of B.C. municipalities convention

Abbotsford police say two victims stabbed, suspect suffered self-inflicted injuries

Abbotsford police say two victims stabbed, suspect suffered self-inflicted injuries
Police in Abbotsford, B.C. say a Saturday evening stabbing that sent three people to hospital, including the suspect, appears to have been a targeted attack. Officers were called to a residential complex on McCallum Road south of Marshall Road shortly before 7:00 p.m. Saturday for a weapons call. 

Abbotsford police say two victims stabbed, suspect suffered self-inflicted injuries