Canada’s Troubling Embrace of Khalistan Extremism: Honouring of the Terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar

by Dr. Jasneet Bedi

On June 19, Canada’s House of Commons observed a moment of silence in memory of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, assassinated in Surrey, British Columbia, a year ago. This act of solemn remembrance, however, has ignited a firestorm of controversy, bringing to light Canada’s problematic stance on Khalistani extremism.

Nijjar, far from being a benign community leader, had deep ties to extremism and terrorism. As reported by The Globe and Mail, Nijjar was an advocate for armed struggle against Indian adversaries. His rhetoric was incendiary: “We will have to take up arms,” he declared in Punjabi. “We will have to dance to the edges of swords.” Despite never being convicted of any crimes, his affiliations were telling. Nijjar was linked to the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), a shadowy militant group, and was known to organize weapons training in British Columbia.

The Globe and Mail obtained a recording of Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s ‘leave them behind’ speech from 2021, one of the few such sermons known to have been filmed.

The company he kept further tarnished his legacy. One of Nijjar’s confidantes, Gurdeep Singh Deepa, is a notorious figure within the Khalistan movement. Deepa ascended the ranks of the Khalistan Commando Force, a group infamous for its brutal attacks, including the 1991 massacre where KCF militants slaughtered 125 Hindus on a train. Nijjar’s association with such figures paints a grim picture of his ideological commitments.

Moreover, Nijjar’s own past is checkered with allegations of terrorist activities. He had been placed on Canada’s No Fly list and was considered a threat to national security. His activities extended beyond Canadian borders, as he allegedly organized an arms training camp in British Columbia, where youths were trained to use AK-47 rifles and sniper rifles. This camp aimed to export violence to India, targeting Shiv Sena leaders and VIPs.

Nijjar’s ties to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are particularly alarming. Between 2013 and 2014, Nijjar held meetings with the self-styled KTF chief Tara and ISI officials, underscoring the international dimension of his activities. In 2020, the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed an FIR against Nijjar for sedition, criminal conspiracy, and promoting enmity between different groups, under India’s stringent anti-terror laws.

The dossier against Nijjar also implicates him in several violent incidents, including the murder of a Dera Sacha Sauda follower and an attack on a Hindu priest. In 2020, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs designated him as a terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and the NIA declared a reward for information leading to his capture.

Yet, despite these grave accusations and his clear links to extremist activities, the Canadian government has chosen to honour Nijjar’s memory. This move is not merely a misstep; it is a dangerous signal to radical elements that their activities will be overlooked or even condoned. The Trudeau administration’s actions appear to be an attempt to appease known Khalistani extremists, a strategy that risks fostering further division and violence.

Canada’s troubling relationship with Khalistani extremism is not new. The country has long been a haven for radical elements who burn effigies of Indian leaders and glorify acts of terrorism. This is what led to the tragic and horrific Kanishka bombing in 1985. By honouring figures like Nijjar, Canada is not just ignoring the dark underbelly of these movements but is also implicitly endorsing their ideology, further putting Canadian citizens at risk.

This stance is a disservice to global peace and security. It undermines the efforts of nations fighting terrorism and emboldens extremists who thrive on international complacency. The global community must hold Canada accountable for its actions and urge it to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of terrorism, irrespective of the political and community pressures it faces.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.

Dr. Jasneet Bedi

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