Canadian authorities arrest three Indian nationals in connection with Nijjar's murder, say more involved in case

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.
hree Indian nationals – (L-R) Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh, and Karan Brar – were arrested by Canadian police in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
hree Indian nationals – (L-R) Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh, and Karan Brar – were arrested by Canadian police in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Ottawa/New York | Canadian authorities, who arrested three Indian nationals in connection with the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, said their investigation has not concluded and "others" played a role in the homicide.

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 three are believed by investigators 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. He was a Canadian citizen.

“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.

“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." Teboul said that three people have been arrested and charged in the killing of Sikh activist Nijjar.

Teboul stressed that the murder remains "very much under active investigation." 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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