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Hundreds gather at Surrey, B.C., Sikh temple a day after its president gunned down

Hundreds of people attended a community gathering on Monday at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., after its president, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was shot and killed.

Nijjar was shot just before 8:30 p.m. PT Sunday while in his car in the Sikh temple’s busy parking lot after evening prayers had concluded.

The 45-year-old had received threats because of his support for a separate Sikh state in India called Khalistan, according to temple officials. 

The World Sikh Organization of Canada said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and law enforcement in Canada failed to adequately protect Nijjar, who was a target of Indian intelligence.

At the gathering on Monday, the atmosphere was tense and strained, with multiple people expressing concern over the safety of the Sikh community in the Lower Mainland.

A group of Sikh men speak informally to each other for a posed photograph.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, second from right, is seen in this 2019 picture. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“He was a very nice person, and he was a very able leader,” said Prabhsharanbir Singh, a community member in attendance. “He was raising issues of human rights and various other Sikh issues.

“That’s why everyone respects him, and out of his respect, I am here.”

Hundreds of people gather outside a Sikh temple in rainy weather with a white tent-like awning over the entrance.
Community members at the Surrey, B.C. Sikh temple expressed concern over their safety after the fatal shooting. (Tanya Fletcher/CBC)

Singh says he believes that Nijjar was targeted at the gurdwara. There was a general feeling at the gathering that the Canadian government and police could have done more to prevent the killing from happening.

“I think the state and the security apparatus need to be more proactive,” Singh said.

Dozens of people, many of them wearing turbans, are seen in a large room.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a popular figure in the community, according to people who attended the meeting Monday. (Tanya Fletcher/CBC)

CBC News has contacted CSIS and the Consulate General of India for comment on Nijjar’s death. 

Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino did not directly answer a question from CBC News on whether Nijjar was known to be in danger in Canada or in contact with CSIS.

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