After bullet-riddled a car in a parking lot on Sunday, two burly masked men fled and jumped into a getaway vehicle near a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, police said.
The victim, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was a prominent Sikh community leader and president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, a temple where he was shot. He advocated the creation of Khalistan, an independent Sikh nation carved out of areas including the Indian state of Punjab.
The killing has shaken Surrey, home to one of Canada’s largest Sikh populations. Some in the nation’s Sikh community say they believe the killing of Mr Nijjar, whom India had declared a wanted terrorist, was a political assassination, although police have not released a motive.
The shooters waited for Mr. Nijjar for an hour before Sunday evening’s deadly attack, Sergeant Timothy Pierotti of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, a branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said at a news conference this week. The Mounties were otherwise tight-lipped and would not confirm whether other law enforcement agencies, including Canada’s spy agency, were participating in the investigation.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party, called on Marco Mendicino, Canada’s public safety minister, to respond to allegations from the Sikh community that Mr. Nijjar had been warned days before his death that his life was in danger.
“Following this blatant act of violence,” Singh said in a letter, “the Sikh community feels even more concerned.”
Tejinder Singh Sidhu, chairman of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, a non-profit organization, said in a statement that Mr. Nijjar had “stated openly and repeatedly that he would be targeted by Indian intelligence”.
Earlier this month, Canada’s National Security Advisor Jody Thomas named India as a major actor in foreign interference – which includes activities such as election meddling and social media disinformation campaigns – even as Canada ventures to forge deeper ties with the country.
But doing so remains a challenge, as political tensions continue between the Indian government, which is pursuing Hindu nationalist policies, and the Sikh diaspora in Canada. (Sikhs are a religious minority in India, accounting for less than 2% of the national population.)
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, said so earlier this month, after videos on social media He showed off a parade float in Brampton, Ontario that depicted the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the former prime minister of India. Mrs Gandhi was shot dead by two Sikh bodyguards in the aftermath of violence that swept the Indian state of Punjab in 1984.
“I think it’s not good for the relationship, and I think it’s not good for Canada,” Jaishankar said at a news conference.
My colleague in New Delhi, Karan Deep Singh, who attended the press conference, followed the news of Mr. Nijjar’s death.
I noticed that one November 2020 charge sheet filed by India’s National Investigation Agency said Mr Nijjar was accused of carrying out terrorist attacks in India and that he had “sought to radicalize the Sikh community worldwide in favor of creating ‘Khalistan'”.
“He has been trying to incite Sikhs to vote for secession, agitate against the Indian government and engage in violent activities, through various posts, audio and video messages posted on social media,” the agency wrote.
Mr. Nijjar has denied these allegations in Canadian media reports.
“Surinder Singh Jodhka, a sociology professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told me that even though the separatist movement in Punjab had barely any sympathy among average Sikhs, either in 1984 or today, the community has not forgotten the toll of violence,” Karan said in an email.
In the days following Mrs. Gandhi’s death in October 1984, rioting and retaliatory violence killed at least 3,000 people, most of them Sikhs in the capital, New Delhi, according to government estimates. Sikh organizations have estimated the death toll to be much higher.
“There is a clear and growing prejudice against Sikhs,” Mr. Jodhka told Karan. Mr Jodhka said some members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in India had publicly welcomed perpetrators of violence against Sikhs.
Mr Nijjar’s killing came nearly a year after another high-profile killing in Surrey – that of a Canadian Sikh man, Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was captured in the 2005 Air India bombings, which killed 329 people en route to New Delhi from Toronto in 1985. Mr. Malik, 75, was shot and killed in a residential neighborhood and two men in their 20s were subsequently arrested.
Avid hikers and leisurely walkers – here are seven treks to take on this year, including the Island Walk on Prince Edward Island.
The multinational search for the Titan submersible ended Thursday after pieces of the vessel were found on the ocean floor off the coast of Newfoundland, evidence that it had most likely suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” a US Navy official said. United States.
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said it would stop making news available on those platforms in Canada after the government passed a law requiring tech companies to pay national news outlets to link to their articles and content.
Basketball player Gradey Dick, of the Toronto Raptors, made fashion critic Vanessa Friedman’s most dressed list for the NBA draft.
Vjosa Isai is a research reporter for The New York Times in Canada. Follow her on Twitter at @lavjosa.
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