Shots fired at Surrey, B.C., home of Hardeep Nijjar associate, group says
SURREY, B.C. : The spokesman for a group advocating Sikh independence says its supporters are frustrated with the lack of action to protect them after a Metro Vancouver home belonging to an associate was hit by gunfire.
RCMP in Surrey, B.C., said the incident happened on Thursday at 1:21 a.m. when an unknown assailant fired multiple shots at the home in the 2800 block of 154 Street.
“Investigators believe this was an isolated incident and we are working to determine the motive,” Surrey RCMP media officer Sgt. Tammy Lobb said in a statement.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, with the group Sikhs For Justice, said many Sikh community members believed the shooting was linked to Indian foreign interference because the owner of the home is an associate of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, who was the leader of a Surrey gurdwara and a key figure in the independence campaign, was killed in a shooting last June.
His death triggered a diplomatic row between Ottawa and New Delhi after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons in September that there was credible intelligence India was involved.
Pannun said Friday that community members could take self-defence into their own hands.
“What exactly are pro-Khalistan Sikhs supposed to do?” Pannun said, referring to the proposed Sikh homeland in India. “Go under a bunker? Disappear from the face of the earth? Then why do we have a government?
“If you are going to force the pro-Khalistan Sikhs and the community to the corner, they are going to take it upon themselves to defend themselves and their family.”
India's High Commission in Ottawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Indian government has previously denied involvement in Nijjar's death, calling the allegations “absurd.”
Pannun said Sikh communities were frustrated Canadian authorities weren't doing more to warn or protect people.
“The Government of Canada is under a constitutional duty to protect the life of all citizens,” he said. “And issuing notices to the victims is just not enough.”
Sikhs for Justice has organized a series of unofficial referendums about Sikh independence.
Organizers say thousands of people took part in voting in Surrey in September and October.