British Columbia

B.C. gurdwara files petition calling for federal investigation into Sikh leader's murder

The temple in Surrey, B.C., where a prominent community leader and proponent of an independent Sikh state was gunned down in June, is pushing Ottawa to respond to allegations of foreign involvement in the crime through a federal petition.

MP B.C. MP Sukh Dhaliwal backs petition amid community concern over foreign involvement in death

A group of Sikh men speak informally to each other for a posed photograph.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, centre, is pictured outside of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., in July 2019. He was shot dead outside the temple on June 18. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The temple in Surrey, B.C., where a prominent community leader and proponent of an independent Sikh state was gunned down in June, is pushing Ottawa to respond to allegations of foreign involvement in the crime through a federal petition.

On June 18, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on 120 Street in Surrey's Newton town centre.

Since then, homicide investigators have identified two suspects in the case, but there have been few details on the motive for the killing.

According to other leaders at the temple and the area's member of Parliament, many community members believe the death was a result of foreign interference and want the federal government to undertake an investigation.

"People are always asking … asking to explain, who's behind this?" said gurdwara secretary Gurmeet Singh Toor.

An RCMP officer walks behind yellow crime scene tape.
Surrey RCMP officers at the scene where Nijjar was killed in Surrey, B.C., on June 18. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Earlier this month, Toor filed a federal e-petition asking the government to launch an investigation and "unveil the real motive and hands behind this gruesome murder."

E-petitions are used to draw attention to an issue of public interest or concern and request action from the House of Commons, federal government, minister or an MP.

Toor's petition is sponsored by Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal, who represents Surrey–Newton.

"The community has come to me, and they want to make sure that [Nijjar's death] is properly investigated to bring the truth out," Dhaliwal said.

Dhaliwal said sponsoring the petition is important to him as he wants to amplify the concerns of his constituents. He says some fear for their safety following Nijjar's death.

"This is a top priority," he said about getting answers to the murder.

A crowd of men wearing a mix of orange and blue turbans and head coverings place their hands on a wooden casket in the centre.
The casket carrying Hardeep Singh Nijjar is pictured at his funeral at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia on Sunday, June 25, 2023. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Dhaliwal said he has met with former public safety minister Marco Mendicino and Surrey community leaders following Nijjar's killing. The main question asked by those leaders was whether India had any role in the murder, Dhaliwal said.

Nijjar was active in advocating for an independent state for India's Sikh minority in the northwestern state of Punjab.

The Indian government had offered a reward of one million rupees, or about $16,000, last July for information that could lead to Nijjar's arrest or apprehension, while the country's counter-terrorism body referred to him as a "fugitive terrorist" who led a conspiracy to murder a Hindu priest.

Toor's petition says Nijjar was "an upright, god-fearing, law-abiding and peaceful member of the Canadian Sikh community with no involvement in any criminal activity."

People are pictured lined against a wall, holding a yellow flag that reads, "Long live Republic of Khalistan."
Protesters hold a flag representing Khalistan outside the Consulate General of India in Vancouver on June 24, a week after Nijjar's murder. (Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press)

Investigators with B.C. RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) have so far not linked the shooting to foreign interference and have said there are no reasons to believe the Sikh community in Canada is at risk.

A spokesperson for IHIT told CBC News in late July that the investigation is ongoing but said they were not able to share any other information.

"IHIT is considering all investigative avenues, and we are being led by the evidence before us," said Sgt. Timothy Pierotti in an email.

Dhaliwal says his government is taking allegations of possible foreign interference seriously.

Before the House of Commons rose in late June, it was close to announcing details of a possible public inquiry over allegations that the Chinese government attempted to influence the results of the 2019 and 2021 federal elections and was targeting specific MPs it deemed unfriendly to China's interests. 

Two prominent Sikh organizations — the British Columbia Gurdwaras Council and the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee — have asked that any public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference in Canada include scrutiny of India.

Dhaliwal said his government is committed to responding to any potential foreign interference in Canada and providing answers to Nijjar's murder.

"I can assure you, and I can assure the public that in any discussions I've had with either the local law enforcement agency or the government … they will do everything possible to bring justice to the families," he said.

An e-petition requires 500 signatures in order to be certified for an MP to present it in the House of Commons. Toor's petition had close to 900 signatures a week before it was set to close Aug. 3.

The government must respond within 45 calendar days to every petition presented in the House.


Chad Pawson is a CBC News reporter in Vancouver. You can contact him at

With files from The Canadian Press