Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whose killing led to a major diplomatic row between India and Canada, reached the North American country using a counterfeit passport and Canada did not take any action against him despite being informed that he faced over a dozen criminal cases of murder and other terrorist activities, sources said on Friday.
Notably, Nijjar was killed by unidentified assailants on June 18 at a parking lot of a gurdwara in British Columbia. He had gone to Canada in 1997 using a counterfeit passport under the alias Ravi Sharma, the sources said.
He had applied for asylum in Canada by claiming that he feared persecution in India because he belonged to "a particular social group". However, Nijjar's asylum was rejected on grounds of a fabricated narrative, the sources said. Eleven days after his claim was rejected, he entered into a "marriage" agreement with a woman who sponsored his immigration.
This application was also rejected by immigration officials in Canada as the woman had also arrived in Canada in 1997 on sponsorship by a different husband.
Nijjar appealed against the rejection in the courts of Canada although he kept claiming himself to be a citizen of Canada. He was later granted Canadian citizenship, the circumstances of which are not clear.
Canadian authorities didn't take action despite India's concerns
An Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) was issued against him in November 2014. Nijjar had over a dozen criminal cases of murder and other terrorist activities against him in India. Details of the cases were shared with the Canadian authorities but no action was taken, sources said. Also, despite RCN, the Canadian authorities did not take any action except putting him on a no-fly list, they said.
The diplomatic row between India and Canada erupted following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in Nijjar's killing.
India has rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
In reflection of the hardening of its position, India on Wednesday advised all its nationals living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes as well as "criminal violence" in that country.
India on Thursday announced temporarily suspending the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens in view of "security threats" faced by its high commission and consulates in Canada.
(With inputs from PTI)