Threatened B.C. Gurdwara Council representative in hiding, questions police communication

Click to play video: 'Threatened Sikh activist questions lack of police communication'
Threatened Sikh activist questions lack of police communication
A year ago, five individuals in Surrey were warned by the national security division of the RCMP that they were under imminent threat of assassination, according to a Sikh activist. One of those men, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, is dead, and another is wondering why more protection isn't being afforded to the ones who remain. Christa Dao reports. – Jun 27, 2023

A spokesperson for the BC Gurdwaras Council has gone into hiding after the high-profile shooting of a gurdwara president in Surrey earlier this month.

Moninder Singh, 42, told Global News that he and four others — including the man killed on June 18 — were warned in July last year about an “imminent threat of assassination” against them. He said members of the RCMP’s national security division and Surrey detachment visited his home, but would not disclose the source of the threats during the meeting.

Singh said he asked about what protections were available but received an unsatisfactory answer. He did not leave his home.

“We were basically told that, ‘You’re kind of on your own,'” Singh said Tuesday in a Zoom interview from an undisclosed location. “We were kind of told that if we had children under the age of 18, they would be removed from our homes or we had to leave our homes.”

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The common denominator between all the men threatened, he added, was their “activism for Sikh sovereignty, self-determination and constantly showing India’s human rights as being extremely poor.”

RCMP would not confirm or deny any threats against Singh, citing privacy concerns.

Click to play video: 'Rally held nearly week after Surrey Gurdwara president’s killing'
Rally held nearly week after Surrey Gurdwara president’s killing

Singh’s close friend, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was gunned down in the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara parking lot after evening prayers on June 18.

The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has told reporters police have “no reason to believe the Sikh community is at risk” in B.C., calling Nijjar’s killing a “targeted incident.” A motive, however, has not been established.

In addition to a well-known community leader, elder and advocate, Nijjar was also a Khalistani, supporting the creation of a separate state for Sikhs. The Khalistan movements rose to prominence in the 1980s, however the roots and discussion around sovereignty for Sikhs and Punjab can be traced back to the 1947 partition of India.

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Thousands attended his funeral on Sunday, including Singh. He made a speech, and it was his last public appearance before going into hiding, he said.

“One thing I’m kind of concerned about is being anywhere near my family in moments like this,” Singh explained.

“Because of the information we received from the RCMP last year, that if I’m with my family and something happens and one of them is at risk — I can’t have that.”

Click to play video: 'Police reveal escape route of suspects in shooting of Surrey Sikh community leader'
Police reveal escape route of suspects in shooting of Surrey Sikh community leader

Multiple sources have told Global News that Nijjar was threatened repeatedly before he was killed. In a May 18 interview with Burnaby’s Spice Radio 1200 AM, he voiced concerns about being on a hit list.

“The people who are raising their voices about human rights can be murdered, and India has the ability to do it,” Nijjar said in Punjabi.

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“Our safety should be made a priority.”

As with Singh, RCMP have not confirmed whether Nijjar had been threatened. In an email, Sgt. Timothy Pierotti of IHIT further said he could not comment on other “rumours” circulating about the shooting.

“What I can say, is that IHIT is working hard to advance it’s investigation and we are allowing the evidence to lead the way.”

Click to play video: 'Radio host Gurpreet Sing on fatal shooting of Sikh community leader'
Radio host Gurpreet Sing on fatal shooting of Sikh community leader

Neither the Surrey RCMP nor the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) would answer questions about Singh’s account of threats against him last summer.

“If CSIS becomes aware of a physical threat to personal safety, it will urgently advise the Police of Jurisdiction, as per existing authorities under the CSIS Act,” wrote Eric Balsam of CSIS’ media relations team by email.

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Police have duty to warn individuals who may be the subject of a “credible and imminent risk to their life,” added Cpl. Vanessa Munn of the Surrey RCMP. Global News also asked whether the Surrey RCMP had extended any protection to Singh or others, or increased its patrols around gurdwaras in Surrey.

“The role of the police would be to investigate the origin of the threat, and follow the evidence to determine whether elements of an offence were present to recommend criminal charges,” Munn wrote.

“Police also conduct safety planning with parties who wish to participate in the process. The specifics of any safety plan would not be disclosed publicly for safety reasons.”

Click to play video: 'IHIT confirms Surrey Gurdwara president killed in shooting'
IHIT confirms Surrey Gurdwara president killed in shooting

The World Sikh Organization of Canada has accused Canadian police and intelligence agencies of failing to protect Nijjar, given the “known” threats to his life.

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Moninder Singh said he’s concerned about the lack of police communication he’s observed in the aftermath.

“The question back to the authorities now that we’re asking is, is that one of those five is gone, and he was warned repeatedly throughout the year — what’s going to happen to the other four?” he asked. “I have not been approached by anyone from law enforcement or security, for that matter — intelligence — since Mr. Nijjar’s death.

“I have approached the authorities to ask what they’re actually planning on doing within the community … but I haven’t really received an appropriate response there either.”

Homicide investigators are searching for two male suspects in Nijjar’s death, believed to have fled on foot after the parking shooting — possibly to a getaway car. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact them at 1-877-551-4448 or

Meanwhile, CSIS encouraged anyone who is concerned for the well-being of an individual to report it to their local police. The RCMP’s National Security Information Network can be reached at 1-800-420-5805, it added, or by email at

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