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Canada arrests 3 Indians in Nijjar's killing, says more people involved

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 04, 2024 15:37 IST
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Canadian authorities, who arrested three Indian nationals in connection with the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, have said that their investigation has not concluded and "others" who played a role in the homicide would also be arrested.

IMAGE: Karan Brar, Kamalpreet Singh and Karanpreet Singh, the three Indians charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in relation to the murder in Canada of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in 2023. Photograph: Integrated Homicide Investigation Team handout via Reuters

Karan Brar, 22, Kamalpreet Singh, 22, and Karanpreet Singh, 28, all Indian nationals residing in Edmonton have been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Friday said they are investigating if the Indian government was involved in the killing of Nijjar, a Canadian citizen.

The three are believed to be members of an alleged hit squad tasked by the government of India with the killing of Nijjar, 45, outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18, 2023.

“The investigation does not end here. We are aware that there are others out there that played a role in this homicide and we remain dedicated to identifying and arresting each one of them,” Superintendent Mandeep Mooker, Officer in Charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said.


The three men were arrested for the murder of Nijjar Friday morning by IHIT investigators, with the assistance of members from the British Columbia and Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Edmonton Police Service.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner David Teboul said they are not able to make any comments about the nature of the evidence collected by police nor “can we speak about the motive” behind Nijjar's murder.

When asked whether there are any Indian "sleeper agents" in Canada, Teboul said he could not say more because the issue is "very much at the centre of evidence and ongoing investigations", CBC News reported.

Asked whether the public should consider the men to have been "guns for hire," police said more information would come out in court, it said.

“However, understanding this situation has attracted considerable and very broad public interest, I will say this matter is still very much under active investigation. I will underscore that today's announcements are not a complete account of the investigative work currently underway.

"There are separate and distinct investigations ongoing into these matters, certainly not limited to the involvement of the people arrested today, and these efforts include investigating connections to the Government of India.”

The ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations in September last year of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar.

India has dismissed Trudeau's charges as "absurd" and "motivated."

During the press conference, Superintendent Mandeep Mooker, who leads the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said, "IHIT is releasing photos of the accused men in hopes of furthering its investigation. Anyone who may have seen these individuals, in or around Surrey, in the weeks leading up to the homicide, or anyone with information about the homicide is asked to contact IHIT.

He said that the suspects "were not known to the police" before the investigation into Nijjar's death, according to reports.

Mooker said all three are Indian nationals and have been living as non-permanent residents in Canada for the last three to five years.

He said coordination with India has been "challenging and rather difficult for the last several years".

Mooker said that his investigation has relied on the Sikh community's support.

"We would not be at this point without the bravery and courage of the Sikh community coming forward with information for this investigation," he said, adding that he believes they will continue to come forward for any future investigations, according to the report.

Citing sources, a report in Global News said that the suspects had entered Canada on “student visas but may have been working at the direction of Indian intelligence when they shot Nijjar.”

According to court records, Brar has been charged with a murder that occurred in Surrey on June 18, 2023. He also faces a charge of conspiracy to murder on May 1, 2023, in Edmonton and Surrey, the report said.

Talking to reporters, Canada's Public Safety Minister Dominic Leblanc declined to confirm the Indian government connection, saying such questions are best addressed by the RCMP.

"I have full confidence in the security apparatus of the government of Canada and the work of the RCMP, and the work that the (Canadian) Security Intelligence Service does," Leblanc said.

"I think the police operation that you see ongoing today confirms that the RCMP take these matters extremely seriously. But questions with respect to particular links or non-links are properly put to the RCMP," he added.

The indictments Friday allege the conspiracy unfolded in both Surrey and Edmonton between May 1, 2023, and the date of Nijjar's killing.

Quoting sources close to the investigation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that the police are actively investigating possible links to three additional murders in Canada, including the shooting death of an 11-year-old boy in Edmonton.

Members of the hit squad are alleged to have played different roles as shooters, drivers and spotters on the day Nijjar was killed at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, according to the sources.

Sources said investigators identified the alleged hit squad members in Canada some months ago and have been keeping them under tight surveillance.

India on Monday summoned the Canadian deputy high commissioner and lodged a strong protest with him over the raising of pro-Khalistan slogans at the event in the presence of Prime Minister Trudeau and several other leaders.

Nijjar was a Khalistani separatist and he was wanted in India on various terror charges.

Days after Trudeau's allegations, India asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country to ensure parity. Subsequently, Canada withdrew 41 diplomats and their family members from India.

India has been asserting that its "core issue" with Canada remained that of the space given to separatists, terrorists and anti-India elements in that country.

Following Trudeau's allegations last year, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens. The visa services were resumed several weeks later.

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