| Welcome to Global Village Space

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Advocate for separate Sikh state shot dead in Canada

Federal police said in a statement that a man was found in his pickup truck in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple in Surrey, British Columbia, around 8:30 pm on Sunday, "suffering from apparent gunshot wounds."

A campaigner for a Sikh nation to be carved out of India’s Punjab state who was wanted by Indian authorities was shot dead in Canada, police said Monday.

Federal police said in a statement that a man was found in his pickup truck in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple in Surrey, British Columbia, around 8:30 pm on Sunday, “suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.”

Read more: Over 31000 Australian Sikhs vote in Sydney despite Hindutva threats

“The man died of his injuries at the scene,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police added.

Police did not initially identify the victim, but later said he was 45-year-old Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the temple’s president who advocated for the creation of a Sikh state known as Khalistan.

The later police statement said they were releasing his identity “in hopes of advancing their investigation.”

“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,” said Timothy Pierotti of the police’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

Nijjar was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged terrorism offenses and conspiracy to commit murder, which he reportedly denied to Canadian media.

He had been warned by Canada’s spy agency about threats against him, according to the World Sikh Organization of Canada, which said that he was “assassinated in a targeted shooting.”

Read more: Sikhs for Justice calls for mass e-mailing to stop Srinagar G20 summit

It pointed to the killings or suspicious deaths of other prominent Khalistan activists in recent months: Avtar Singh Khanda, in Britain, and Paramjit Singh Panjwar, in Pakistan.

India’s Punjab state — which is about 58 percent Sikh and 39 percent Hindu — was rocked by a violent Khalistan separatist movement in the 1980s and early 1990s, in which thousands of people died.

Today, the separatist movement’s most vocal advocates are primarily among the Punjabi diaspora.

India has often complained to foreign governments, including Ottawa, about the activities of Sikh hardliners among the Indian diaspora who, it says, are trying to revive the insurgency.

In March, Indian authorities summoned Canada’s top diplomat in New Delhi after Sikh protesters gathered outside India’s diplomatic mission in Canada.