The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered an FIR against Hardeep Singh Nijjar, alleged to be a top Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) militant based in Canada. The FIR was registered at NIA’s police station on Thursday after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), concerned over activities of Khalistani radicals in Punjab, ordered an NIA probe against Nijjar. The agency sent a communication to the special NIA judge in Mohali on Friday. After the FIR, the NIA will now try for extradition of Nijjar, who is wanted in several terror-related cases in Punjab.
The case was registered under IPC Sections 124A (sedition) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc ) and 120B (criminal conspiracy), and Sections 10, 16 and 18 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
This is the second FIR the agency has lodged against Nijjar this year. An FIR was registered against him on April 14 under IPC Section 120B and 13, 17, 18 and 20 of UAPA.
Nijjar’s name was in the list of wanted persons handed over to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh when the two met in Amritsar in February.
Nijjar is believed to be a core member of the BKI, which traces its origin to the Babbar Akali Movement of 1920 and wants an independent Sikh state of Khalistan. The outfit is among the 39 terror organisations banned by India.
A native of Jalandhar district, Nijjar is currently based in Surrey, Canada, and is allegedly “conspiring and planning to carry out a major terrorist attack in India”, according to the MHA. “He has been engaged in several activities that are prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, such as sourcing finance to procure arms and ammunition and training Sikh youth for carrying out terrorist activities in India,” the ministry noted in its communication to the NIA.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had recently taken up issues related to internal security of Punjab and alleged nexus between Khalistani militants and local gangsters with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
MHA officials said the issues raised by Amarinder was examined, and based on intelligence reports it was ascertained that Nijjar has “some associates in India who have conducted reconnaissance of gatherings of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at certain places, including Punjab, with an intention to target them and strike terror in a section of the people in India”.
According to the MHA officials, Nijjar allegedly intends to execute the attack at a time and place where there is a large gathering so that there are maximum casualties.
BKI was earlier responsible for blasts in Delhi and Punjab. In 2005, the BKI had claimed responsibility for the blast at Satyam-Liberty cinema hall in Delhi during the screening of Sunny Deol-starrer Jo Bole So Nihal. In March this year, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba told a parliamentary panel that Sikh youths are being radicalised and trained with the help of Pakistan’s ISI.
Officials said the MHA’s move comes days after Nijjar was released in Canada. He was arrested by the Canadian law enforcement agencies in mid-April, and released within 24 hours, without any charges being filed, an official said.
Indian authorities suspect Nijjar is also linked to the Khalistan Tiger Force and suspect he is conducting weapons training for Sikh youths in Vancouver, Canada.