Indian agency files another case against Hardeep Singh Nijjar of Surrey (full background)

INDIA’S National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered another case (what is known in India as a First Information Report or FIR) against Hardeep Singh Nijjar of Surrey, Canada.

The Indian agency alleges that Nijjar is a top Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) militant based in Canada, although Nijjar has said several times over the years that he has nothing do with terrorist activities and is only exercising his right to freedom of speech in Canada.

According to Sikhs for Justice organization in North America, lawyer Gurpatwant S Pannun will defend Nijjar. Pannun tweeted: “SFJ To Defend – Nijjar is termed as “terrorist” and framed in false criminal cases only because he is engaged in a political campaign for a referendum in Indian occupied Punjab. “We will defend Nijjar against any attempt to extradite him to India.””

According to the Indian Express newspaper, the agency sent a communication to the special NIA judge in Mohali last Friday and it will now try for extradition of Nijjar, “who is wanted in several terror-related cases in Punjab.”

The case was registered under IPC Sections 124A (sedition) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc ) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), and Sections 10, 16 and 18 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

This is the second FIR the agency has lodged against Nijjar this year. An FIR was registered against him on April 14 under IPC Section 120B and 13, 17, 18 and 20 of UAPA, according to the Indian Express.

The newspaper repeated what has already been reported that Nijjar’s name figured in the list of wanted persons handed over to Justin Trudeau by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh when the two met in Amritsar in February.

Nijjar is allegedly “conspiring and planning to carry out a major terrorist attack in India”, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). “He has been engaged in several activities that are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, such as sourcing finance to procure arms and ammunition and training Sikh youth for carrying out terrorist activities in India,” the ministry noted in its communication to the NIA.

The Indian Express reported: “MHA officials said the issues raised by Amarinder were examined, and based on intelligence reports it was ascertained that Nijjar has “some associates in India who have conducted reconnaissance of gatherings of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at certain places, including Punjab, with an intention to target them and strike terror in a section of the people in India”.

Officials said the MHA’s move comes days after Nijjar was released in Canada. He was arrested by the Canadian law enforcement agencies in mid-April, and released within 24 hours, without any charges being filed, an official pointed out to the Indian Express.

The newspaper also reported: “Indian authorities suspect Nijjar is also linked to the Khalistan Tiger Force and suspect he is conducting weapons training for Sikh youths in Vancouver, Canada,” although this allegation was pooh-poohed back then.

This is the June 2016 report in The VOICE:

Are pro-Khalistan “terrorists” running a camp in B.C.? Hardeep Nijjar strongly denies allegations, writes to Trudeau

A report in the prestigious Indian newspaper The Times of India … claimed that India’s intelligence agencies have reportedly told Canada that pro-Khalistan “terrorists”are running a camp near Mission in B.C. with a mission to carry out strikes in Punjab.

Punjab intelligence agents alleged that Hardeep Nijjar, a Canadian, has taken over as the operational head of Khalistan Terror Force (KTF) and formed a unit of Sikh youths to carry out the attacks.

The Punjab government has already submitted the report to India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs to seek Nijjar’s extradition, The Times of India report said.

However, Nijjar strongly denied the allegations to Canadian media, noting that he has been running his own plumbing business.

On Wednesday, he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking that his name be cleared as he has never been investigated or charged with any crime. He alleged that the Indian government was trying to defame him because he was fighting against injustices against Sikhs in India.

He appealed to Trudeau: “I urge your administration to dispel the Indian government’s fabricated, baseless, fictitious and politically motivated allegations against me, which are being used to label me as a “terrorist” and smear the Sikh nationalist campaign in Canada.”

He introduced himself as “a Citizen of Canada, who has lived in this great country since 1977.” He added: “I operate a small plumbing business to support my two children, wife and parents.”

Nijjar said: “I am a Sikh nationalist who believes in and supports Sikhs’ right to self-determination and independence of Indian occupied Punjab through a future referendum.”

He added: “I have never believed in, supported or been involved in any violent activity.”

He said that because of this he had “become a target of an Indian government media campaign to label my human rights campaign as “terrorist activities.””

Nijjar said: “The Indian government in its most recent attempt, has accused me of running a “terrorist camp” from Mission, B.C. … The photo running in most media reports has been doctored to include a weapon.”

After mentioning the protests he has been involved in since 2012, Nijjar said that in retaliation, “in April 2015, Indian police illegally detained my father who is a resident of Canada and my brother who is a Citizen of the U.K. During their detention the police warned them: “If Nijjar does not stop his anti-India campaign, we will implicate him in criminal cases and confiscate all the landed property of your family in India.”

THE Times of India in its report said that the Punjab government’s report alleges that Nijjar “was to arrange weapons from Pakistan but due to high alert on the border in the wake of Pathankot incident [the January 2 terrorist attack on India’s Pathankot airbase], it could not materialize”.

The newspaper report said that Nijjar, a baptized Sikh who has been staying in Surrey since 1995, is a proclaimed terrorist in Punjab and wanted in connection with the 2007 Shingaar cinema blast in Ludhiana in which six people were killed.

“These disclosures were made in the report after an alleged KTF member, Mandeep Singh, was arrested from Chak Kalan village in Ludhiana two weeks ago following his phone calls to Pakistan-based terror outfit Dal Khalsa International’s (DKI) chief Gajinder Singh and Nijjar,” the newspaper report said.

“Nijjar has been imparting arms training to his group in Canada after the arrest of former KTF chief Jagtar Tara in Thailand by Interpol last year. He took Mandeep Singh and three more Sikh youths recently for AK-47 training in a range near Mission where they were made to fire for four hours daily,” according to the intelligence report.
The report claims that Nijjar was even detained by Thai authorities when he took a flight from Lahore to Vancouver via Bangkok last year. It also alleges that Mandeep and Nijjar have made frequent visits to Pakistan for arms training with the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and attached recent photographs showing them brandishing AK-47s outside Nankana Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.
The report made a raft of other allegations.

However, some Sikhs in Canada allege that such reports are distorted or false and that the Punjab Police is notoriously corrupt. Torture is very commonly used by Indian police forces to extract information and prisoners often confess whatever the police want them to in order to avoid further torture or even death. They also note that Canadian courts would need solid proof to extradite anyone to India.