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Sikh activists in B.C. mark anniversary of Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing

One of many Sikh activists marking the anniversary of the killing of British Columbia temple leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar says the past year has shown they are vindicated in their claims that India targeted separatists overseas.

Youth leader says 'sense of danger' remains after Nijjar shot dead outside Surrey gurdwara a year ago

Men in turbans are silhouetted in shadow in the foreground as others line up behind them at a Sikh funeral service.

One of many Sikh activists marking the anniversary of the killing of British Columbia temple leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar says the past year has shown they are vindicated in their claims that India targeted separatists overseas.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a New York-based activist who himself was targeted by India, according to U.S. authorities, says Nijjar's murder a year ago was "not the kind of publicity" the Sikh independence movement was seeking.

Pannun says Nijjar's death and subsequent revelations by Canadian and U.S. officials have "uncovered" India's plans to silence overseas dissidents with violence outside the law.

Nijjar, a key organizer for an overseas referendum on an independent Sikh state in India, was gunned down in the parking lot of the Surrey, B.C., temple where he was president on June 18 last year.

Sikh activist groups are marking the one-year anniversary of his death with a rally and a "citizens' court" outside Vancouver's Indian consulate, as well as a commemoration at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara where he was killed.

On the weekend, thousands of Sikhs from across Canada and other countries travelled to the gurdwara to honour Nijjar.

"We're honestly just trying to fill in the shoes that he left behind and just have the same impact or do something for our community," said Bhawleen Singh, who came from Toronto, on Sunday.

WATCH | Sikh community remembers Hardeep Singh Nijjar:

Sikh community marks a year since Hardeep Singh Nijjar's murder in Surrey, B.C.

1 day ago

Duration 5:46

Thousands of Sikhs travelled to the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., to commemorate Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead outside the temple of which he was president. A prayer service will continue until June 18, the one-year anniversary of his death.

4 charged with murder

Four Indian nationals — Karan Brar, Amandeep Singh, Kamalpreet Singh and Karanpreet Singh — are accused of murder and conspiracy in Nijjar's killing, which strained relations between Canada and India.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament that credible intelligence linked Nijjar's death to Indian government involvement.

India has denied involvement in the killing and says it does not have a policy of assassinating people abroad.

Last week, Trudeau and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was recently re-elected, shook hands at the G7 Summit in Italy.

Trudeau told reporters that he spoke to Modi about several issues, but he wouldn't specify whether it included allegations about the Indian government's involvement in Nijjar's killing. Recent government reports have also named India as a foreign state actor that tried interfering in Canadian elections.

'Sense of danger'

Gurkeerat Singh, a youth leader at the Guru Nanak gurdwara, said he heard about killings like Nijjar's in India when he was younger.

"To witness that happening here now in Canada last year … there is still a sense of danger among the community," he told CBC's On The Coast guest host Amy Bell.

Surrey RCMP Asst. Commissioner Brian Edwards, who worked closely with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team on the Nijjar murder investigation, said police are working with the local Sikh community to help them feel safe.

"What I want to see in Surrey is members of the Sikh community feel comfortable in reporting to the police and interacting with the police," he told CBC's The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn.

He said all levels of government and policing are working together to monitor the situation.

LISTEN | Surrey RCMP assistant commissioner on keeping the Sikh community safe:

The Early Edition10:43Safety concerns remain 1 year after Nijjar killing

One year after Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down outside of his gurdwara in Surrey, some Sikh members say they are still concerned for their safety. We hear from Surrey RCMP Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards.

Referendums go forward

Singh said Sikhs in Canada and around the world will continue their activism, peacefully.

Activists are pushing ahead with holding non-binding referendums in overseas Sikh communities on the question of creating an independent state known as Khalistan, with the next vote slated for Calgary on July 28, Pannun said.

"Even though we have lost Shahid Nijjar as our main co-ordinator, we are continuing on with full resolve on the path of independence," Pannun says, using the Sikh term for martyrdom in reference to the Surrey temple leader.

"If the cost of running or organizing a Khalistan referendum is a bullet, I'm ready to face that bullet," he says.

The four accused in Nijjar's death are next scheduled to appear in court in Surrey on June 25.

With files from CBC News

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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