‘They can kill us’: Fear and Sikh resilience in Canada city amid India spat (Aljazeera)

Six months after Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s assassination, his community members face threats but say they’re not defeated.


Surrey, British Columbia – On a Saturday afternoon in a Sikh temple in Surrey, Canada, boys and men with determined faces wield swords and sticks at each other in an ancient martial art called gatka.

“We are a rebellious community,” Gurkeerat Singh, a farmer, electrician, photographer and spokesperson for the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Temple, tells me. Surrey is about a 45-minute train ride outside of Vancouver. The city of half a million people is home to the second-largest Sikh population in the country.

Today, as the first snow of the season melts in puddles outside the building, there’s a small but encouraging crowd watching the gatka tournament inside. “From a young age, we teach our children to be armed and learn how to defend themselves,” says Gurkeerat.

That need for the community to defend itself no longer feels like a hypothetical scenario in this fast-paced suburban city, which has the slogan: “The future lives here”. Not since the assassination of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey in June.

“The game has completely changed,” says 42-year-old Moninder Singh, a spokesperson for the British Columbia Gurdwaras Council.

“Now, it’s no longer, you live to fight another day but you don’t know if you’ll live, the way they’re operating. Hardeep’s assassination, although not a surprise, was still unprecedented.”

This story was originally published in aljazeera.com. Read the full story here .

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