Amid the escalating diplomatic standoff between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) visited Khalistani elements in the US and warned them that their lives may be at risk, according to a report by The Intercept.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was shot dead by two unidentified assailants outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Colombia, Canada, on June 18. His killing sparked a diplomatic row between India and Canada after the latter’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday alleged New Delhi’s involvement in the matter.
India rejected Canada’s charges as “absurd” and “motivated” and expelled a Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat response to Ottawa’s removal of an Indian official in the case.
Pritpal Singh, a coordinator for the American Sikh Caucus Committee, told The Intercept that he and two other Sikh Americans in California received calls and visits from the FBI after Nijjar was killed.
“I was visited by two FBI special agents in late June who told me that they had received information that there was a threat against my life,” said Pritpal Singh. “They did not tell us specifically where the threat was coming from, but they said that I should be careful,” he added.
The two other Sikh Americans, who chose to remain anonymous, also confirmed that FBI agents visited them around the same time as Pritpal Singh. The federal agency has not commented on the development yet.
Canadian intelligence officials had warned Khalistani elements that their lives were in danger before Nijjar was killed in June, said Moninder Singh, a spokesperson for the British Columbia Gurdwaras Council who was among those who got warnings.
“They told us that we were at imminent risk of assassination, but they would never say specifically that the threat was from Indian intelligence or give us enough information to tell us where it was coming from,” Moninder Singh added.
Notably, the agents from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had singled out Nijjar, warning him about the risk to his life, according to Moninder Singh.
Confirming the development, Sukhman Dhami, co-director of Ensaaf, a California-based NGO, told The Intercept, “We have also received messages that certain community leaders associated with the politics of Sikh self-determination have recently been visited by law enforcement and warned that they may be targets.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) designated Nijjar in July 2020 and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for him. The probe agency had also filed a chargesheet against the Khalistani terrorist at its court in Mohali.
On Saturday, the NIA confiscated two properties and 45 kanals of agricultural land of Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the US-based chief of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in Chandigarh and Amritsar. Pannun is a designated terrorist under Section 51A of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).