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Was India really behind Canada’s Sikh shooting?

Relations between Canada and India have been icy. Credit: Getty

September 19, 2023 - 3:05pm

Justin Trudeau has this week accused the Indian government of the murder of prominent Sikh leader and pro-Khalistan activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was gunned down outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, BC this past June. The accusations have further strained relations between Canada and India, with Ottawa expelling the Indian intelligence chief stationed in Canada, and India in turn asking a high-ranking Canadian diplomat to leave the country within the next few days.

All this comes after Trudeau’s return from the G20 Summit in New Delhi last week, where Modi allegedly scolded the Canadian Prime Minister over his support for the Khalistan movement in Canada. Trade talks between the two countries have been on ice ever since.

The timing of these allegations raises questions about their authenticity, since Nijjar was killed three months ago, and Trudeau has recently returned from his underwhelming visit to India. The Canadian PM’s vocal support for the Khalistan movement — Sikh separatists who wish to establish a sovereign homeland for themselves in the state of Punjab in India — isn’t without political motivations. His minority Liberal government is being propped up by support from the Left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP), headed by Jagmeet Singh, a card-carrying Khalistani. Were Singh to withdraw his support for the Liberals, Trudeau’s dwindling popularity in the polls would probably see him ousted from power in the event of a new election.

Canada has one of the largest populations of Punjabis outside of India, where Sikhs account for 2% of the country’s 1.4 billion people. The city of Surrey in BC, where Nijjar was killed, is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in North America. In recent years, the number of Punjabis coming to Canada has grown tenfold, in part due to relaxed federal regulations for international students who have a pathway to Canadian citizenship once they arrive here on student visas.

This has given rise to a cottage industry of for-profit colleges across Canada where the student body is sometimes composed of 90% international recruits from the province of Punjab alone. Incidents involving students coming to Canada on bogus claims with fraudulent papers and test scores have also made the news in recent months, with most of the students coming from the states of either Haryana or Punjab in India. Some of them have been deported back to India in light of the scandal, but many still remain, with some turning to gangs and criminality once they get to Canada.

Gang activity and gun violence have been growing in Canada’s Punjabi community for decades, with Surrey as the epicentre. News of Canada’s Punjabi gang violence made international headlines when last year Sidhu Moose Wala — a popular Punjabi rapper who rose to fame in Brampton (another city with a significant Sikh population) in Canada — was gunned down in India by Goldy Brar, a prominent gangster in Canada also from Punjab.

Gun crime and general hooliganism are trademarks of Punjabi youth gangs in Surrey and Brampton, with 40 young men arrested and deported last year after getting into altercations with the law. More and more young men with pro-Khalistani sentiments have been involved in gang activities in recent years, giving new life to the Khalistan movement in Canada.

Lumping all Punjabis and Sikhs in Canada as Khalistanis involved in gang warfare is obviously reductive, but for Trudeau laying bare the complexities of the Punjabi communities in Canada would not be a political win. Just as there exist pro-separatist sentiments in Quebec (where Trudeau is from), members of the Punjabi diaspora have varying views on their identity as Indians, Sikhs, and Indo-Canadians. Nijjar may have been killed by a faction of the Punjabi gangs which operate out of Surrey, BC, who do not agree with Nijjar’s vision of a separate Khalistan. If that is the case, it’s unlikely to make front-page news anytime soon.


Hina Husain is a Pakistani-Canadian freelance writer based in Toronto.

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JP Martin
JP Martin
9 months ago

The articles written about this incident never mention the bombing of Air India 182 (1985). Canada has a long of history of harbouring Khalistani extremists. Canadian intelligence services have been thoroughly incompetent (both unwilling and unable) to control their activities. Over decades, Canada spent millions on the failed prosecutions of suspects in the Air India bombing and a royal commission of inquiry into those failures. Despite all of this, it appears that nothing has improved and nothing was learned. Rather than be offended that the government of India might have assassinated this man on Canadian soil, Canadians should be asking why Hardeep Singh Nijjar was there in the first place. This man, with a history of associations with terrorism in India, entered Canada under a fake identity (like Ahmed Ressam) and later entered into a fraudulent marriage for immigration purposes. He should never have been allowed to enter Canada, and he most certainly should not have been allowed to remain. If Canada continues to give refuge to people like this, it can expect more of these sorts of problems.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

Trudeau is a clown. Singh is a clown. International relations is way beyond their capabilities. It’s doubtful Canadian Sikhs even support Singh. Sikhs make up about 30% of the Canadian trucking industry and they strongly supported the truckers protest, people Singh was quite happy to crap on. There is no way Singh is withholding support for the Liberal govt over an issue like this. Trudeau was embarrassed by the Indian govt so he’s lashing out like a child.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago

I am Canadian and no one I spoke with about this will believe Trudeau is telling the truth without hard evidence. We would have believed literally any other Prime Minister – but Trudeau has been so deceitful that it is just assumed he is lying or exaggerating. He has been taking a beating in the press for two weeks because he is so low in the polls. As well he was made to look weak and stupid agai in India. He just wants to change the media channel and get some revenge on India.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Anything that comes out of Trudeaus mouth has to be vetted for truth.

I wouldnt believe him if he told me to bring an umbrella.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
9 months ago

Trudeau can go from weird to hysterical in the shortest of spans. After grounding himself in Delhi( suspiciously one thought) with supposed ” aircraft failure” of his Canadian plane, he is now back to tinfoil- hatting . Maybe he saw too many C- grade Bollywood movies during his deliberate overstay!

T Bone
T Bone
9 months ago

The Prime Minister of Inclusive Tolerance has fully reimagined Canada as a beacon of Global Citizenship.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
9 months ago

The ancient rivalry, whose origins are lost in the mists of time, between India and Canada is heating up.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago

We will have to settle it on the field hockey pitch playing a modified version that permits body checking and fist fighting.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I think a better game would revolve around cricket/ baseball as you could employ “artillery”.

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
9 months ago

Uhm.
Justin is not from Quebec. Although one can easily imagine him saying “Je suis QuĂ©bĂ©cois.”

His dad was certainly from Quebec and Justin spent much time at Harrington Lake. But many would argue that neck of the woods was desperately anglicized because it was federal government territory. As many of my childhood separatist friends and teachers did.

And Justin spent most of his life in Ottawa, which although on the border of Quebec is not Quebec. Although some Canadians might contend otherwise.

Anyway, just felt like sharing.

Tarun Dattani
Tarun Dattani
9 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Hanke

Yep.Paternal grandmother was Elliott from Quebec and mother is Sinclair from BC.More Anglo than Quebecker.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
9 months ago

A much better assessment of the situation than the one published yesterday by the FT. The FT just loves its sahibs. It is irked by the fact that a past tea wala is now the most popular PM of India.

Waffles
Waffles
9 months ago

Canada is learning the hard way that multiculturalism does not work. They will regret opening the floodgates.

Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
9 months ago

Nobody has yet mentioned the dubious past of Modi, which even includes being banned from the US for his responsibility for the massacre of 1000 Muslims in Gujarat. Modi is wedded to making India a Hindu state at all costs and he is willing to sacrifice Muslims and Sikhs to that purpose. Whatever you may dislike about Trudeau, at least he doesn’t have blood on his hands

Tarun Dattani
Tarun Dattani
9 months ago

….that is if you believe everything woke nazis tell you! That the US ban was politically motivated is very clear now. Modi was exonerated by the Supreme Court Of India of any wrong-doing. In the final analysis people of India will have the last word – not BBC,FT, or the Left/Islamist cabal. Wait till 2024.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
9 months ago

An irresponsible and motivated comment. Showing both ignorance and hatred for a tall leader, perhaps India’s best PM till date. The riots in Gujarat were unfortunate but there is no role of Modi in it, as has been repeatedly proved by a series of legal investigations.
Trudeau and his clan have lots of blood on their hands starting with their encouragement of Khalistani terrorism. Which included the murder of all passengers aboard the 1985 Air India flight.
Pierre Trudeau deliberately prevented the extradition of the perpetrators of the above tragedy.

Chris Warfe
Chris Warfe
9 months ago

Writer sounds like a Modi apologist. Like a growing number of Canadians I am questioning Justin’s competency. However judging from India’s government response, Modi’s supporters can hardly contain themselves from proclaiming their guilt. For a more analytical view see the New York Times article ( this article came out before revelation of signals intelligence and 5 Eyes corroboration of India’s complicity in the killing) Canada Confronts India Over Alleged Assassination – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Warfe

Hope you are aware that Trudeau has close connects with CCP funding, and that Soros has publicly declared that bringing down an elected Indian government is his prime objective.
The NYT is part of the Soros stable and completely ludicrous in its anti Modi narratives most of the time.

Chris Warfe
Chris Warfe
9 months ago
Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
9 months ago

The US is deeply concerned about these allegations and encourages the Indian government to cooperate with Canada to investigate this killing. Does that sound like Trudeau is making all this up, you nutbars?

Tarun Dattani
Tarun Dattani
9 months ago

India does not take orders from US to “encourage” GOI to cooperate with Justin/Jagmeet administration to investigate the killing of Nijjar.Let the RCMP investigate it.Present their evidence to the Courts.Then Canada can request GOI to extradite the person(s) found guilty of Nijjar’s murder.Lets face it – the arrogant woke messed up this one.

O. M.
O. M.
9 months ago

I may have a less than nuanced sense of federal politics, but what exactly is the author saying when he identifies the NDP’s chief as a Sikh with pro-separatist sentiments and cites it as a factor that Trudeau needs to take into account? The party Singh heads is supposed to be concerned with Canadian affairs – which does not always equal affairs of Canadians, as so many of them are recent immigrants with links to their countries of origin. Surely Singh is not in a position to dictate his party the stance on the issue of a separate Sikh state, for his party’s line to reflect his own personal sentiments. Of course the party might in fact be sharing its chief’s views, but it still would mean that Trudeau needs to be mindful of the NDP’s weight as a whole. The way this was presented in the article is as if Singh himself has that weight…

David Murphy
David Murphy
9 months ago
Reply to  O. M.

Singh was elected leader of the national NDP because of the party’s adoption of the complete complement of wokist mantras and associated virtue-signalling. Singh fit the bill: non-white, non-Judao Christian overtly religious. They long ago droppped any pretense of being pro-working class or social-democratic and are just ‘Liberals in a hurry’: their previous leader was a Quebec Liberal Party cabinet member.