Nijjar was gunned down in his truck outside the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on the evening of June 18. The killing has became a major diplomatic flashpoint this month, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament there were “credible allegations” of a “potential link” between “agents of the government of India” and the killing.
As first reported by the Washington Post, the shooting was captured on the gurdwara’s security cameras.
Global News has not viewed the video, which the temple is not making public, but leaders say it has been turned over to the RCMP and Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT).
Gurdwara volunteer Gurkeerat Singh told Global News he had seen a 90-second clip of the footage.
“This was pre-planned and well orchestrated — there was definitely more than two people involved in this murder,” he said.
Singh said the video shows Nijjar getting into his vehicle and beginning to drive, when a white car pulls up and begins driving alongside him.
As Nijjar turns towards the gurdwara parking lot’s exit, the white car pulls in front of him and blocks him off, before two men who were waiting under a covered area approach, raise firearms and open fire.
“That car was used as a blocker car to block Mr. Hardeep Singh Nijjar in while the assassins came and shot at him from the driver’s seat. That car made its way out and quickly after that the assassins, they moved out as well,” he said.
“From watching the video we could tell that this wasn’t something done abruptly, or it wasn’t a random act — that this was well planned, orchestrated.”
Singh estimated the gunmen fired between 40 and 50 shots.
IHIT has previously said two “heavier-set” men with face coverings were seen fleeing the scene on foot along 122nd Street and through Cougar Creek Park.
The suspects got into a silver 2008 Toyota Camry near 121st Street and 68th Avenue where a third suspect was “intentionally waiting,” according to IHIT.
Monday’s Post investigation, however, cited a witness who said there were three people waiting in the getaway vehicle.
That report also raised concerns from witnesses who claimed it took police between 12 and 20 minutes to arrive on scene.
Singh, who was not on site when the shooting took place, said he has heard similar concerns from other temple members who were there at the time.
The Post report further alleged a jurisdictional dispute between Surrey police and RCMP over who would lead the investigation.
The Surrey Police Service disputed that characterization Tuesday, telling Global News the Surrey RCMP remains the police of jurisdiction in the city, and would automatically have operational control.
IHIT also released a statement Tuesday challenging what it described as “misinformation” in the Post report.
“The first 911 call in relation to this incident was received at 8:27 p.m. and the first officers arrived on scene in under four minutes, with more officers arriving on scene shortly after,” IHIT said.
“It was suggested that there was a conflict regarding which police agency would ‘head the investigation,’ however as the police of jurisdiction, Surrey RCMP is responsible for all police investigations in Surrey. There is nothing to indicate this investigation was delayed in any way, either in the initial response or in subsequent investigative steps.”
Nijjar’s friends say he had been worried about his safety in the days before the shooting.
“He came to my home to say a tracker had been found in the wheel well in the same pickup truck that he had been killed in,” Moninder Singh, spokesperson for the B.C. Gurdwaras Council told Global News.
Nijjar, 45, came to Canada in 1997, claiming he had been beaten and tortured by Indian police. His refugee claim was denied the following year for using a fraudulent passport according to immigration records. He became a Canadian citizen in 2015, according to Immigration Minister Marc Miller.
Nijjar went on to marry a B.C. woman and launch a plumbing business, but also developed into a vocal advocate for the Khalistan movement, seeking a separate Sikh nation.
The Indian government claims he was a “mastermind/active member” of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), which the country has designated as a terrorist group, allegations Nijjar denied.
In the wake of Canadian allegations of Indian government in his death, simmering tensions have emerged between the two countries, including the expulsion of diplomats by both sides.
Nijjar’s supporters have also staged demonstrations outside Indian consulates across Canada.
On Tuesday, B.C. Premier David Eby said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc had committed to improving information sharing with the province to ensure the safety of residents following the killing.
“It’s not just in the South Asian community, the Indian diaspora, people who live in our province. It’s also people who have roots in Iran, or who have roots in China or Ukraine or Russia who are concerned about speaking out about governments in a way they used to feel safe doing, but following the allegations regarding the murder in Surrey feel significant anxiety about speaking out about issues they have every right to speak about in British Columbia,” Eby said.
“In my meetings I expressed to him and to the public safety minister the importance of B.C. getting proactive information about concerns, threats from the intelligence community so we can act, so we can put in place provincial responses to address these issues faster.”
Eby’s statement came on the same day that gurdwara councils in B.C. and Ontario called for the immediate suspension of all security and intelligence agreements with India and repeated their calls for a public inquiry into Nijjar’s death.
-With files from Global’s Uday Rana and The Canadian Press