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4 May, 2024 10:19

Canada arrests Indians suspected of killing Sikh activist

Authorities are probing New Delhi’s alleged role in the death of a separatist leader designated a “terrorist” by the Indian government
Canada arrests Indians suspected of killing Sikh activist

Canada has arrested three Indian citizens in connection with last year’s assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist designated a “terrorist” by New Delhi. 

Nijjar was a prominent supporter of a movement seeking to create an independent nation called Khalistan, or “Land of the Pure,” carved out of the India’s Punjab state and surrounding areas. 

The suspects – Karan Brar, Kamalpreet Singh, and Karanpreet Singh – had been living as non-permanent residents in Alberta, Canada for three to five years, according to Canadian police. 

The three men are expected to be transported to British Columbia to face charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Canadian police said the individuals were not on their radar prior to the killing.

Speaking at the briefing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Assistant Commissioner David Teboul said separate investigations are being conducted into Nijjar’s killing, “certainly not limited to the involvement of people arrested today” and that “these efforts include investigating connections to the government of India.”

The separatist leader was gunned down in a parking lot outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia last June, sparking a diplomatic spat between New Delhi and Ottawa. In September 2023, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that Indian agents may have been involved, without providing evidence. The feud led to the expulsion of diplomats and a temporary cancellation of visa services to Canadians by the Indian government. 

Trudeau later explained in an interview with the Canadian Press news agency that he had gone public with the accusation “put a chill on India.”

New Delhi has repeatedly denied any role in the killing, and asked Canada to provide proof to substantiate its claims. It also accused Canada, among other Western nations, of “harbouring terrorists” and providing political space to “separatists, terrorists, and anti-India elements.”

The arrest of the alleged hitmen comes days after Trudeau attended a public event that featured activists chanting pro-Khalistan slogans. In response, New Delhi summoned the Canadian deputy high commissioner to register a diplomatic protest.

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