Nijjar denies involvement in killing of Ripudaman Malik in Canada
Malik was shot dead on Thursday in Surrey, in the province of British Columbia. He was once accused of playing a role in the terrorist bombing of the Air India flight Kanishka in 1985
The president of the Guru Nanak Sikh temple in Surrey, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who has been accused with multiple crimes, including terrorism in India, has denied any connection to the killing of Ripudaman Singh Malik, the man who was acquitted in the 1985 Air India terrorist bombing case.
Malik was shot dead on Thursday in Surrey, in the province of British Columbia. He was once accused of playing a role in the terrorist bombing of the Air India flight Kanishka in 1985 which claimed 329 lives, but was acquitted of all charges.
Homicide investigators are now trying to figure out who killed the controversial community leader, one-time terror suspect, a wealthy businessman, and founder of both the Khalsa Credit Union and Khalsa Schools.
Malik travelled to India in 2019 and again this summer, and also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi praising him, leading to speculation that he may have been killed due to his change of heart. Media reports also suggested that the Nijjar, who is also based in Surrey, may have been behind the murder.
However, when asked by the Hindustan Times whether he played any such role, Nijjar said, “No.”He added that he had “no issue” with Malik.
Nijjar described Malik as “a good personality in the community” in an interview to the outlet Vancouver Sun, and said his son studied in a Khalsa School run by Malik.
Nijjar, the president of the Guru Nanak Sikh temple in Surrey, is associated with the separatist Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). India has asked Canadian authorities to take action at the earliest against Nijjar for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts in Punjab.
The discussions on Nijjar took place when a team from India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) visited Ottawa in the first week of November last year, and again, on a reciprocal visit by a team from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RMCP) to New Delhi last month. A charge-sheet was recently filed against him by the NIA for his alleged involvement in the killing of the priest Kamaldeep Sharma in January 2021.
However, these allegations were denied by Nijjar’s lawyer. SFJ general counsel Gurpatwant Pannun said that while Nijjar had “political differences” with Malik, SFJ did not believe and violence and was against any act of terror.
Pannun said Nijjar was being targeted by India for being “the face of the Khalistan Referendum in Canada” and leading the campaign in the country, even as voting on the issue is expected in the country later this year.
Malik’s murder was “targeted”, according to local law enforcement, and is being probed by the integrated homicide investigation team.
On Friday, the team released a video of a white Honda CRV driving through the area a little while before the 75-year-old Malik was found shot there, according to CBC News.
(With inputs from agencies)