‘Hit squad’: Assassination of Sikh activist with ties to Brampton leads to arrests, reports say


Published May 3, 2024 at 2:02 pm

Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot and killed in Surrey, B.C. on June 18, 2023.

UPDATE: Police say the three accused men are all non-permanent residents and investigators are looking into “possible ties” to the government of India.

Arrests have been made in the targeted murder of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an organizer of the controversial Khalistan movement who has ties to Brampton.

The arrests come nearly one year after Nijjar was shot and killed outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, B.C., and were first reported by the CBC saying a “hit squad” had been detained citing “sources close to the investigation.”

Members of the alleged hit team were arrested on Friday and are said to have worked as the shooters, drivers and spotters for the June 18 attack at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara that police called “outrageous,” according to reports.

The RCMP has reportedly taken multiple Indian nationals into custody who entered Canada on student visas “but may have been working at the direction of Indian intelligence” according to Global News – which could pose a problem for the courts if they have immunity as foreign diplomats.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke on the arrests on Friday and called it “horrific” that there are allegations that “a foreign government would kill a Canadian on Canadian soil.”

Police said on Friday the arrests happened in Edmonton, adding that the investigation is ongoing and there could be more arrests and charges.

The RCMP says Kamalpreet Singh, Karanpreet Singh, and Karan Brar were all arrested in Edmonton and have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Police said the arrests would not have been possible “without the bravery and courage of the Sikh community.”

The suspects are all men in their 20s who are Indian nationals and the CBC reports they have ties to a group run by jailed Punjabi gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, who has been accused of killing Brampton rapper and politician Sidhu Moose Wala in May 2022. Police say the Bishnoi gang is also linked to extortion cases targeting the South Asian community across Canada.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc says he has been informed about the update by the RCMP in the case.

Nijjar was one of the organizers of the Khalistan referendum – a nonbinding vote happening around the world with activist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) calling for the state of Punjab to break away from India and become a Sikh state of Khalistan.

Thousands of Canadian followers of the Sikh faith came to Brampton in 2022 to take part in the controversial vote, and Nijjar was also involved in organizing voting days in other cities.

His death caused a diplomatic rift between India and Canada following claims by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “credible allegations” Indian government officials may have been involved in the killing. The allegation led India to temporarily halt all visa services for Canadian citizens and left many travellers and agencies in Brampton scrambling.

The murder also led Brampton City Council to call on police and the federal government to ensure places of worship are kept safe. Coun. Gurpartap Singh Toor called the prime minister’s allegations a “validation to the decades of Canadian voices that have always spoken about the presence of foreign interference and intelligence reporting by the government of India.”

Peel Regional Police say South Asian citizens and Sikh residents in Brampton have been the target of extortions and intimidations, including a shooting at the home of Inderjeet Singh Gosal, another Khalistan referendum organizer.

A week before Gosal’s home was targeted, police in B.C. also arrested two youths following a shooting at the home of a pro-Khalistan organizer.

The World Sikh Organization applauded the arrests in a statement but called for law enforcement to find “those who directed these operations.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

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