Police have sought public assistance in locating four Indian-origin men, aged between 22-30 years, in connection with an aggravated assault that took place in Canadian city of Brampton.
The chief of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in a targeted shooting in Canada’s Surrey on Sunday (June 18), was allegedly eliminated at the hands of his erstwhile comrades who have turned against him.
Nijjar’s killing came almost a week after the death of Avtar Singh Khanda, the face of violent protests against the Indian High Commission in London. It has been alleged in Khalistani circles that the sudden death of Khanda may have been engineered by Nijjar who could not tolerate being overshadowed and captured by international headlines by Khanda. Wanted in several violent terrorist incidents in India and Canada, 45-year-old Nijjar carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakhs on his head.
He was shot dead by unidentified assailants in the parking lot of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey. Sources reveal that the gurdwara had been captured by Nijjar about seven years ago and was being presided over by him ever since.
There have been frequent allegations that funds from the shrine were being embezzled for funding terror activities in Punjab.
Postmedia has learned that the police are looking at two potential motives, that Nijjar was killed because of his Khalistan activism, or that it was related to a more local political dispute in Surrey, said Vancouver Sun.
Nijjar was designated a ‘terrorist’ by India under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in July 2020 and his property in the country was attacked by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in September 2020. Interpol Red Corner Notice was also issued against him in 2016.
The local police of Surrey had also put Nijjar under house arrest temporarily in 2018 on suspicion of his terror involvement but he was released later.
Nijjar, a native of village Bhar Singh Pura in Jalandhar, Punjab, had long been involved with Khalistan militancy since migrating to Canada in 1995. Initially, an operative of Babbar Khalsa, he was involved in some of the most high-profile terror cases of the first decade of the millennium including the Shingar Cinema bomb blast in Ludhiana in 2007 and the assassination of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat President Rulda Singh in Patiala in 2009.
He was introduced to Pakistan-based fugitive Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) supremo Jagtar Singh Tara, now incarcerated in India, in 2011 and switched to the newly formed KTF. He kept on meeting Tara in Pakistan in the annual jathas, during which he was allegedly trained in the fabrication of IEDs and handling of high-end guns.
Nijjar also funded Tara handsomely from Canada and financed his shifting of the base from Pakistan to Thailand in 2014, sources reveal.
When Tara was facing deportation from Thailand in late 2014, Nijjar made frantic efforts to stop it, making multiple rounds of Thailand and Pakistan.
The next year, Nijjar trained three Sikh youths in handling AK-47 and Russian sniper guns in the hilly terrain of Mission City, British Columbia before sending them to India for targeting some senior police officials and popular Dera leaders.
Nijjar also formed an alliance with fellow Surrey-based Punjabi gangster Arshdeep Singh Gill alias Arsh Dala and off late delved into organised financial crimes both in Punjab and in Canada in order to finance his terror plans. This latest venture had also reportedly made Nijjar a target of the warring criminal gangs operating in the Surrey-Delta area.
Nijjar also led an intimidatory campaign against the then Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh who was to visit Canada on Malik’s invitation last year forcing Jathedar to cancel his visit. Nijjar’s name also figured as a suspect in Ripudaman Malik’s assassination.