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IHIT identifies Surrey homicide victim as local Sikh temple leader


The victim of a deadly shooting outside a temple in Surrey, B.C., has been identified by police as the president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara.

Sgt. Tim Pierotti with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said at a news conference Monday afternoon that 45-year-old Hardeep Singh Nijjar was found with multiple gunshot wounds inside a vehicle at the Gurdwara around 8:30 p.m. Sunday. 

He was treated by first responders, but died on scene.

“Last night’s homicide was a brazen act of violence outside a place of worship,” said Surrey RCMP Asst. Comm. Brian Edwards at a news conference Monday. “This was a shocking and very public act of violence against a well known community member and Gurdwara president.”

Edwards said a motive for the murder has not yet been identified. “I am aware that there's a lot of rumors and speculation going on, particularly online. At this time we're driven by the evidence and we're working hard to speak to every person and collect the facts of this case,” he said.

Investigators say they are currently in the evidence gathering phase and will be on scene speaking to witnesses and canvassing for any video and physical evidence.

IHIT and Surrey RCMP urged community members to give statements to advance the investigation.

Nijjar has been accused of terrorism by the Indian government.

CTV News spoke to his lawyer back in 2018, who said the allegations were false and politically motivated.

Human rights lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said Nijjar was only being targeted because he supported a referendum campaign calling for Sikh independence in the state of Punjab.

"We will defend Nijjar against any attempt to extradite him to India," Pannun said in a statement. "Indian authorities often label Sikh activists as terrorists, (when they) are simply trying to raise awareness in Canada about human rights violations."

According to documents from India's National Investigation Agency, Nijjar was being investigated for allegedly plotting a deadly attack in the South Asian country.

The government said it received "credible information" that the B.C. resident tried to secure financing to purchase weapons and training for Sikh youth so they could target Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing volunteer organization that’s closely tied to India’s ruling party.

"He intends to execute the attack at a time and place where there is a large gathering so there are maximum casualties," the documents read.

But Nijjar insisted he was only involved in a human rights campaign focused on promoting Sikh rights and exposing anti-Sikh violence.

"I am a Sikh nationalist who believes in and supports Sikhs' rights to self-determination," he said through his lawyer. "My activities are peaceful, democratic and protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

That wasn’t the only time Nijjar had faced similar allegations from abroad.

Back in 2016, he appealed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for help clearing his name following a report that he had set up a terrorist training camp near Mission, B.C.

His supporters held a protest on 120th Street in the hours following the shooting and into early Monday morning, blocking the road while chanting and praying.

They cleared the roadway at the request of RCMP around 7:30am.

“The body was killed but the ideology will only grow exponentially from here. The fight that was fought by him, Bhai Panjwar, Bhai Khanda, and others must continue. Khalistan Zindabad!” Wrote the group on Facebook.

Anyone with information or dash camera footage from the area is asked to contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or by email at

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Kaija Jussinoja Top Stories

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