Curious case of Hardeep Singh Nijjar: Khalistani leader once fled to Canada on fake passport in 1997

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Khalistani leader whose death has strained diplomatic ties between India and Canada, once fled his country of birth in February 1997 using the name ‘Ravi Sharma’ on a fake passport.

Photo Caption: Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar once fled to Canada on fake passport. Photo Courtesy: Hindol Sengupta X page

Relationship between India and Canada has touched a new low after Canadian PM Justin Trudeau alleged New Delhi's role in the killing of Nijjar in June this year.

His name had even featured in the most-wanted list, which was handed over by then Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in February 2018.

According to reports, several terror-related incidents were also allegedly carried out by him.

In April 2018, Nijjar was briefly taken into custody but released without charge in Canada. A few months later, in January 2019, he was ‘elected unopposed’ to head Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, which has one of the largest memberships among the Sikh community in Canada, reports The Tribune.

Canada’s 2018 Annual Report on the Threat of Terrorism had for the first time referred to ‘Khalistani extremism’ as a risk factor. Protests followed and Trudeau promised to ‘cleanse’ the reference to ‘Khalistan’, the newspaper reported.

Fake Passport

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a self-proclaimed Canadian citizen, who was originally a plumber by profession, found refuge in Canada under dubious circumstances back in 1997. His refugee claim was rejected, and he resorted to using a fake passport to gain entry, according to a report.

His marriage to a Canadian woman reportedly led to Nijjar getting Canadian citizenship and a passport.

India designated Nijjar as a terrorist

India designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.

Security agencies have long been aware of Nijjar’s active involvement in recruiting and training individuals for the banned terrorist outfit, Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).

Additionally, he was a prominent member of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a separatist group that organised a so-called Khalistan referendum in 2020, reports

India had repeatedly communicated its concerns about Nijjar’s involvement in terrorist activities.

In 2022, the Punjab Police sought Nijjar’s extradition due to his involvement in spreading terrorism within the state.

He was wanted in connection with the 2007 Ludhiana blast that killed six people and injured 42 others.

In 2010, the Punjab Police filed a case against him for his alleged role in a bomb blast near a temple in Patiala. He was also accused of targeting Hindu leaders and conspiring to kill them in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Look Out Circulars and Red Corner Notices were issued against him in 2015 and 2016, further underscoring his criminal activities, reported

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) even probed Nijjar’s involvement in the killing of RSS leaders in Punjab. Most recently, in 2022, the NIA declared a INR 10 lakh (USD 12,035) reward on Nijjar for conspiring to murder a Hindu priest in Punjab’s Jalandhar.