About 75 people rallied outside the Consul General of India in downtown Vancouver Monday to protest the reported involvement of the Indian government in killing Canadian citizen and Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar was a leader in the fight for the creation of a Sikh state in India called Khalistan. He was gunned down three months ago outside of Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, where he was president. The 45-year-old was proclaimed a terrorist by India in 2020.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a bombshell statement that Canada was pursuing "credible allegations" linking Indian government agents to Nijjar's murder.
Waving Canada and Khalistan flags and holding signs denouncing the Indian government and foreign interference, the Vancouver demonstration was staged atop a large flag of India placed on the wet ground.
Vancouver police closed the 300 block of Howe Street in anticipation of the event, which took place amid a heavy police presence.
Gurkeerat Singh of Abbotsford said he joined the protest to show respect for Nijjar, whom he called a good friend.
"We are here standing in his legacy and to tell the Indian state today that this type of act of terror against Canada's sovereignty, against a Canadian citizen, the Sikhs will never accept and Canadians will never accept," he said.
Avtar Singh Pannu was also in attendance.
"That's why we are here," said Pannu, "to shut down every Indian consulate in the world today because the Indian back face has come to the front face."
The protest was organized by several groups, including Sikhs for Justice, a U.S.-based group advocating for an independent Khalistan.
Protests were also held in Toronto and Ottawa where around 70 people demonstrated in front of the Indian High Commission, demanding India's co-operation with the Canadian government in the investigation of Nijjar's murder.
India has angrily rejected Trudeau's claims that it was responsible for Nijjar's death, calling them "absurd" and politically motivated.
Protesters rally outside the Indian High Commission in Ottawa on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
In the aftermath, relations between the two nations continue to deteriorate. Both have expelled senior diplomats and late last week India suspended visa services for Canadians. Scheduled trade talks had already been called off.
No arrests have been made in Nijjar's death and authorities say the investigation is ongoing.
About 770,000 Sikhs live in Canada, the largest population of Sikhs outside the state of Punjab. Not all support the activism aimed at creating an independent Khalistan.