Canada police make arrests linked to murder of Sikh leader Nijjar

Country is pursuing allegations linking Indian government agents to fatal shooting of Canadian citizen

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed in British Columbia in June 2023. Photo: Facebook/ Hardeep Singh Nijjar
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Canadian police have arrested three Indian citizens in connection with the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the province of British Columbia in June 2023.

Authorities took Karanpreet Singh, 28, Kamalpreet Singh, 22 and Karan Brar, 22, into custody in Edmonton, Alberta, on Friday.

The three non-permanent residents have been charged with “first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder,” Integrated Homicide Investigation Team Superintendent Mandeep Mooker told reporters.

Mr Nijjar, 45, was gunned down outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a sizeable Sikh community.

His death sent shock waves across the country and around the world when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in September that Canadian authorities were pursuing allegations linking Indian government agents to the fatal shooting.

New Delhi rejected Mr Trudeau's claim as “absurd”.

Police provided few details as to the evidence they had against the three and said the “matter is still very much under active investigation”.

“We are investigating if there are any ties to the government of India. However, as I said, it's an continuing investigation, and I don't have any information to provide on that matter at this time,” Supt Mooker said.

Police outlined a detailed investigation that involved working with international partners as well as efforts to work with Indian law enforcement agencies.

“I'll be frank, I'd characterise that collaboration as rather challenging and difficult for the last several years,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner David Teboul said.

“The RCMP is very committed to continuing to establish a working relationship … we're going to continue our efforts, but its been difficult.”

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation earlier said the RCMP had arrested members of an alleged hit squad. It quoted a source saying investigators had identified the suspects in Canada some months ago and had been keeping them under surveillance.

Canada has been pressing India to co-operate in its investigation.

The US later revealed it had foiled an assassination attempt against a Sikh separatist on its soil.

The presence of Sikh separatist groups in Canada has long frustrated New Delhi. Nijjar was labelled a “terrorist” by India.

Neither the RCMP nor the Indian mission in Ottawa were available for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: May 04, 2024, 7:14 AM