NEW DELHI: Twenty-six years ago, a man named ‘Ravi Sharma’ arrived in Toronto and sought asylum claiming persecution by the Indian government. His affidavit to the Canadian government claimed severe torture by Punjab Police and wrongful arrest of his family members.
Canada‘s immigration records show that the passport was fake. The man was none other than slain Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) chief and wanted terrorist Hardeep Singh
The government of Canada wasn’t convinced by Nijjar’s story and his file remained mysteriously open for about four years during which he married a Canadian citizen to file fresh claims.
Intelligence sources said that a plumber by profession, Nijjar only got respite, and citizenship, in 2001 around the time he joined Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) using his close links with Jagtar Singh Tara, a former chief of KTF. BKI was then headed by
Sukhdev Singh Babbar
Nijjar and Tara remained thick over the years and committed to the Khalistan ‘movement’. Their close proximity was uncovered in 2014 when Nijjar travelled to Thailand to meet Tara – involved in the assassination of former Punjab CM Beant Singh – and provided financial help, an intelligence official recalled.
An intelligence note of the time says that on Tara’s instructions, Nijjar travelled to Pakistan to coordinate his escape from Thailand with ISI’s help. The escape plan never succeeded and Tara, who had been cornered by Indian intelligence in Pattaya, was eventually brought to India a year later in 2015.
Nijjar had, meanwhile, returned to Canada and was now heading the KTF. The outfit began large-scale indoctrination and recruitment of youths (mostly drug addicts) from Punjab, turning them into hitmen after training in Canada and sending them to Punjab for targeted killings. This plot was first uncovered in some of the killings orchestrated by Nijjar during 2014-2016 and with the arrest of a key KTF member, Mandeep Singh Dhaliwal.
In the last few years, Nijjar had been aggressively promoting anti-India activities. In 2020, Nijjar was listed as a terrorist after being booked under UAPA for training and financing KTF module members. Last July, the NIA had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh on Nijjar in connection with a case of conspiracy to kill Hindu priest Kamaldeep Sharma in Jalandhar in January 2021.
His last footprints were traced to an incident involving display of a controversial tableau depicting the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi during a ‘Nagar Kirtan’ procession in Brampton in June. He was also seen at the forefront of a mob which indulged in a vandalism incident at the Ottawa high commission in March. On June 18 this year, Nijjar (46), was shot dead by two unidentified men in the parking lot of the gurdwara at 8.27pm local time, as he headed home for the day.