(CTN News) – In a significant demonstration outside the revered Golden Temple in Amritsar, hundreds of Sikh activists gathered on Friday to demand justice for the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist, in Canada. The incident has strained relations between the two nations, with allegations and diplomatic expulsions adding to the tension.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent statement in Parliament, suggesting a possible link between New Delhi and Nijjar’s murder in British Columbia, ignited the controversy. India promptly denied any involvement and dismissed the allegations as baseless, leading to a tit-for-tat exchange of diplomats and the suspension of Canadian visas by New Delhi.
Carrying posters bearing Nijjar’s image, the demonstrators chanted slogans, calling on New Delhi to cease extrajudicial actions against Sikh separatists advocating for Punjab’s independence.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a plumber by profession, emigrated from Punjab, India, twenty-five years ago and eventually became a Canadian citizen. He had been a vocal supporter of the Sikh homeland movement, which led India to designate him as a “terrorist” in July 2020.
Paramjit Singh Mand, a leader of Dal Khalsa, the group that organized the protest and advocates for a separate Sikh homeland, stated, “It is an opportunity for New Delhi to engage in dialogue with Sikh leadership.” The Sikh community constitutes a mere 2% of India’s vast population of 1.4 billion people, but in Punjab, a state of 30 million, they form the majority and have deep historical roots dating back 500 years.
Nearly 400 activists participated in the protest, later convening for prayers at the temple to express solidarity and hope for the release of political prisoners and the well-being of exiled separatists, as mentioned by Kanwar Pal, the political affairs secretary of the group. The situation remains tense, with both countries closely watching developments in this ongoing dispute.