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Surrey gurdwara marks one year since Hardeep Singh Nijjar's murder

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Hundreds gathered at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey on Sunday to mark a solemn anniversary: one year since the temple’s president was killed.

Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in his pickup truck he was leaving the gurdwara on June 18, 2023. Three months later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced security agencies were looking into “credible allegations” agents of the Indian government were behind the killing, which India denies.

Many in the local Sikh community already saw Nijjar’s murder as a political assassination as he was a prominent supporter of the Khalistan movement and organized unofficial referendums gauging support for a separate Sikh state.

“Hardeep Singh Nijjar is many things to many people, but one of those legacies will be his contribution and his sacrifice for Khalistan, for the referendum and for peace,” said Jatinder Singh, director of Sikhs for Justice at the gurdwara on Sunday.

“That is something that can never be diminished.”

Last month, four Indian nationals were arrested and charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection to Nijjar’s death.

Twenty-two-year-old Karan Brar, 22-year-old Kamalpreet Singh and 28-year-old Karanpreet Singh were arrested in Edmonton, and 22-year-old Amandeep Singh was already in custody in Ontario when he was charged for his role.

“They were hired hitmen,” Singh said of the suspects.

“The parties responsible for this, the individuals actually pulling the trigger, metaphorically in a way, are what the prime minister said: Indian agents. And those are the individuals that need to be brought to justice.”

He told CTV News the community fears those agents will “inject more violence” in the future.

Diplomatic relations between Canada and India have been strained since the killing, but on Friday Justin Trudeau was pictured shaking hands with recently re-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It was the first time the two word leaders have seen one another since Trudeau accused the Indian state of being behind the murder.

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