A Canadian Sikh accused by Indian intelligence agencies of being a Khalistani terrorist running an arms training camp in British Columbia has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to dispel the “politically motivated allegations” against him.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar has retained the group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) to provide him legal defence.
In his letter to Trudeau, Nijjar urged the Canadian administration to “dispel the Indian government’s fabricated, baseless, fictitious and politically motivated allegations” which, he claimed, were being used to “label” him a terrorist and to “smear the Sikh nationalist campaign in Canada”.
“I have never believed in, supported or been involved in any violent activity,” Nijjar wrote in the letter.
As the Indian government communicated with Ottawa on the issue on Monday, Nijjar reached out to Gurpatwant Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ. Pannun met Nijjar on Tuesday and said he would “coordinate legal defence” for Nijjar.
Pannun said Nijjar has yet to be approached or questioned by Canadian authorities. He cited a statement by the mayor of Mission, a township in British Columbia, that the shooting range is in the open and could not have been used for a training camp.
Pannun further claimed the Indian consulate in Vancouver had issued a visa to Nijjar in 2014. Nijjar didn’t go to India at that time but Pannun said if he was considered an imminent threat, he should not have been issued a visa.
Nijjar has not travelled outside Canada since an Interpol warrant was issued against him in late 2015. Pannun said he would coordinate efforts to stall any attempt to have Nijjar extradited from Canada to India.
SFJ has in recent months filed cases against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York and Toronto. It was also instrumental in forcing Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh to cancel a scheduled visit to Canada.
Nijjar has been active in seeking a separate Sikh homeland. In November 2013, he was in Geneva to submit a memorandum to the UN Human Rights Commission pertaining to the 1984 riots that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
In June 2014, he participated in an event in New York during which a memorandum was prepared for the UN Secretary General for holding a referendum in Punjab. Later that year, as Prime Minister Modi held a bilateral summit with US President Barack Obama, Nijjar joined a protest outside the White House in Washington.