Murder of a Sikh leader in Canada | RCMP arrest three suspects of Indian nationality

(Ottawa) Three Indian citizens have been arrested on Canadian soil in connection with the murder of a Sikh community leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar – a significant development in a case that has caused a diplomatic crisis between Canada and India.

Three Indian men have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Karan Baraj, 22, Kamalpreet Singh, 22, and Karanpreet Singh, 28, all residents of Edmonton, were arrested Friday morning.

The three accused are believed to be hitmen, and were arrested in Alberta and Ontario, according to Global News.

Police are currently “not able to comment” on the evidence or motive for the crime, as the investigation is still ongoing, said Sergeant Timothy Pierotti at a press conference in Surrey, British Columbia.

Several other investigations are ongoing and “very active,” including a “review into the involvement of the Government of India,” said David R. Teboul, assistant commissioner of the British Columbia RCMP.


British Columbia RCMP Assistant Commissioner David R. Teboul

The relationship with the Indian authorities is, however, “difficult, for several reasons on which I cannot elaborate,” commented the deputy commissioner.

“We understand that the community will have a lot of questions,” acknowledged Surrey RCMP Officer Brian Edwards.

Reactions are flowing

The federal Minister of Public Safety, Dominic LeBlanc, indirectly confirmed the arrests made by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in British Columbia, which were first reported by the CBC network on Friday.


Federal Minister of Public Safety, Dominic LeBlanc

“It is good news that the RCMP is doing its job in a robust manner, in an appropriate manner,” he indicated during a press briefing where he reacted to the tabling of the interim report on the foreign interference in Canadian elections.

However, he did not want to comment on the matter in detail, relying on the RCMP. “You will understand that the developments concerning the murder of a Canadian citizen, Mr. Nijjar, are part of a police operation which is still ongoing,” he said.

A case with international scope

It was in Surrey, British Columbia that the leader of a Sikh temple, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was shot and killed last June in front of his gurdwara. He was reportedly the subject of death threats because of his support for an independent Sikh state in Khalistan, India.


The temple run by Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The affair took on an international dimension last September when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood up in the House of Commons and pointed the finger at New Delhi.

“In recent weeks, Canadian security agencies have actively investigated credible allegations that there is a possible link between agents of the Government of India and the murder of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” he then declared.

The Indian government had vigorously denied the allegations, calling them “absurd”.

Retaliatory measures followed: New Delhi freezing processing of Canadian citizens’ visa applications, warning Indian travelers to exercise caution in Canada due to “increasing anti-Indian activities”, expulsion of Canadian diplomats stationed in India.

Concerned about their relationship with the Indian giant, several of Canada’s allies have remained discreet, avoiding attacking the government of Narendra Modi too harshly. An indictment filed in the United States, however, gave weight to the statements of Justin Trudeau and members of his government.

Even recently, last Monday, the Indian government criticized the Canadian Prime Minister. The Department of Foreign Affairs summoned Canada’s deputy high commissioner to India to discuss Justin Trudeau’s presence at a Sikh celebration where pro-Khalistan slogans were heard.

“The Government of India has expressed its deep concern and strong protests […] This once again illustrates the political space given to separatism, extremism and violence in Canada,” reads a short statement published on the Indian ministry’s website.

Prime Minister Trudeau was not the only federal leader at the Khalsa party last Sunday in Toronto. The leader of the Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre as well as the New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh, who is of Sikh faith, were also there.

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