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Radical Desi names Hardeep Singh Nijjar as its Newsmaker of 2023

Hardeep Singh Nijjar Radical Desi
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Society.

An alternative online magazine has chosen a slain former gurdwara president as its newsmaker of the year. Radical Desi selected Hardeep Singh Nijjar for becoming “a catalyst for breaking the global silence on growing repression of minorities and political dissidents under a right-wing Hindu nationalist government in India”.

Prior to his death, Nijjar publicly supported creating an independent Sikh country called Khalistan. On June 18, masked gunmen killed him outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on 120th Street in Surrey.

Two months later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament that Canadian security agencies “have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar”.

Radical Desi said that the murder of Nijjar “forced Canada to look into growing foreign interference into its internal affairs by the world’s so-called largest democracy”.

Meanwhile, on June 30, Czech authorities detained a 52-year-old Indian citizen, Nikhil Gupta. This came after U.S. authorities had accused him of plotting the murder of lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, general counsel of Sikhs for Justice. The New York–based Pannun, a U.S. and Canandian citizen, was a close associate of Nijjar.

In an indictment, the U.S. government alleges that Gupta worked with an unidentified Indian government employee in the assassination plot. Prosecutors claim that under this Indian government employee’s direction, Gupta tried to hire a hitman. However, Gupta allegedly inadvertently contacted a confidential source working with U.S. law enforcement. And Gupta allegedly offered this man $100,000 to complete the job.

Radical Desi
Radical Desi describes Hardeep Singh Nijjar as a “catalyst”.

Radical Desi describes Nijjar as soft-spoken

Moreover, prosecutors claim that on June 9, this Indian government employee and Gupta “arranged for an associate to deliver $15,000 in cash” to the confidential source. According to the indictment, this was “an advance payment for the murder”.

Furthermore, the indictment mentions that hours after masked gunmen had murdered Nijjar, this Indian government employee sent Gupta a video clip showing the Sikh leader’s “bloody body slumped in his vehicle”.

None of the allegations against Gupta has been proven in court.

Radical Desi described Nijjar “as a soft-spoken and hardworking member of the Sikh community in BC”.

“He had organized special prayers for the indigenous kids whose remains were discovered from the former sites of residential schools and always spoke out for the human rights of everyone, including non-Sikhs, for which Radical Desi had presented him with a medal,” the publication added.

Prior to his death, Nijjar talked about being murdered in an interview with Radical Desi co-founder Gurpreet Singh, who is also a Pancouver contributor.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.