Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar not religious figure but terrorist: Sources
Nijjar was 'Operation Chief' of the outlawed Khalistan Tiger Force. India accused him of "operationalising, training and financing" KTF members
Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whose killing has sparked an unprecedented diplomatic row between India and Canada, was a known terrorist who ran training camps and funded terrorist activities.
Nijjar was a close associate of Gurdeep Singh alias Deepa Heranwala, who was involved in the killing of about 200 people in Punjab during the late 1980s and early 1990s, news agency PTI quoted unnamed sources as saying. Heranwala belonged to the banned Khalistan Commando Force (KCF).
Nijjar, shot dead on June 18 in British Columbia, had escaped to Canada in 1996 fearing arrest in India and indulged in drug smuggling and extortion in Canada to arrange funding for terrorist activities, the sources said. He was also involved in training youths at a terrorist camp in British Columbia to carry out attacks in India.
Over the years, Nijjar assumed the role of 'Operation Chief' of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), an outlawed terrorist group. In 2020, he was accused by India of being actively involved in "operationalising, networking, training and financing" KTF members.
In 2012, Nijjar visited Pakistan and came in touch with Jagtar Singh Tara, chief of Babbar Khalsa International, another banned terrorist outfit. Tara supplied him weapons and trained him in assembling IEDs in 2012 and 2013. He sent US-based Harjot Singh Birring to Canada to train Nijjar in operating hand-held GPS devices.
Nijjar also sent one million Pakistani rupees to Tara, the sources said. In 2014, Nijjar planned a terrorist attack on Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa in Haryana on the directions of Tara. However, the attack could not take place as Nijjar was denied an Indian visa.
Nijjar allegedly muscled his way to the post of the president of the gurdwara in Surrey in Canada in 2021, forcibly deposing his cousin, Raghbir Singh Nijjar, with threats of violence.
The NIA has registered several cases against Nijjar and issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice against him for raising a terrorist module in Canada involving Khalistani Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal.
Nijjar was also the head of Canada chapter of Sikhs For Justice, another outlawed terrorist organisation. He had organised violent anti-India protests in Canada and threatened Indian diplomats, the sources told PTI. He had also given a call to ban Indian Embassy officials from taking part in various programmes organised by local gurdwaras in Canada.
The India-Canada row erupted after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar. India rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated".
The two countries have expelled a senior diplomat each. India has also temporarily suspended issuance of visas to Canadian citizens in view of "security threats" faced by its diplomatic missions in Canada.
(With agency inputs)