The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Thursday said that the investigation of the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whose death sparked a major diplomatic row between India and Canada, remains "active and ongoing".
The 45-year-old Nijjar was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18. Last week, Trudeau made unsubstantiated allegations linking the Indian government's role behind the terrorist's death.
"We are aware of reports being made regarding the homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. As this remains an active and ongoing investigation, I’m unable to comment on specific evidence collected by IHIT (Integrated Homicide Investigation Team)," the spokesperson of IHIT Sergeant Timothy Pierotti told news agency PTI on Thursday.
Pierotti further told Canadian media that a 'fulsome canvass' of the area was done and the police is in the midst of collecting relevant evidence. Nijjar's son, Balraj Nijjar, said that his father met with Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers "one to two times" every week shortly before his death.
Video footage of Nijjar's murder
Additionally, the Washington Post newspaper was reportedly able to view security footage of Nijjar's killing, prompting authorities of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sahib in Surrey to launch an investigation into how the video was released. This is the same Gurdwara outside which Nijjar was murdered.
"We’ve been told by the temple that the video is not for the media, the public because it’s an ongoing investigation. That video won’t be released to anyone. It’s an ongoing investigation," said Gurkeerat Singh, a spokesperson for the gurdwara, to a Canadian news agency.
Singh further said that he had viewed the footage multiple times and that it showed that the perpetrators had tracked Nijjar's movements for a while before they executed their plan to kill him. "It wasn't something done randomly," he said.
How Nijjar's death soured India-Canada ties?
Tensions between India and Canada reached a boiling point after Trudeau alleged India's role in the fatal shooting of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep S Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). Nijar, a designated terrorist in India, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18.
India angrily rejected the Canadian PM's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to a similar move by Ottawa. India also temporarily suspended visa services for Canadian nationals in view of "security threats" and called for a reduction of Canadian diplomats in New Delhi.
India also advised all its nationals in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes. The diplomatic standoff between both countries has laid uncertainties over trade relations, as India and Canada recorded a burgeoning bilateral trade for the past few years.
Since the row, several people, including Canadian MPs have highlighted the threats Hindu-Canadians are facing there, especially after a threat by pro-Khalistani group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) asking Hindus to "leave Canada". Now it has come to light that a man has been arrested for vandalising two large Hindu temples in Surrey.
According to a daily in Vancouver, the suspect and his accomplices plastered pro-Khalistan posters on the Hindu places of worship and declared that Indian diplomats are wanted in Canada for the "assassination" of Nijjar.
(with PTI inputs)