3 Indian nationals arrested for murder of Sikh activist in Surrey

The charges laid against three people in the high-profile killing of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C., are being hailed as a “positive step” by a local Sikh leader, who also cautions that many questions around the case remain to be answered.

CBC News is reporting the three men charged are members of an alleged hit squad that investigators believe was tasked by the government of India with murdering Nijjar, a prominent Sikh separatist, in June 2023.

Karan Brar, 22, Kamalpreet Singh, 22, and Karanpreet Singh, 28, are each charged with one count of murder using a firearm and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Police say they were arrested in Edmonton where they live without incident Friday morning. 

“After 10 months of waiting for the family and the community, it’s a very positive step,” said B.C. Gurdwaras Council spokesperson Moninder Singh. “We’ve been waiting for this day to better understand what has been happening.” 

Police say all three men are Indian nationals. CBC has learned at least two came to Canada as international students.

“There’s some relief but there are a lot of questions still, particularly around … who ordered [the killing], where does this connect back to India and who was involved,” said Singh. 

A man carries a sign that says "Sikhs Want Their Independence" wearing a blue collared shirt and black turban, surrounded by other men.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on 120 Street in the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey, B.C., in June 2023. (Sikhs for Justice)

Court documents say the conspiracy to murder took place from May 1 to June 18 last year, at or near Surrey and Edmonton.

Nijjar, 45, was gunned down in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on 120 Street in Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood on June 18.

The arrests take place against a backdrop of national security tensions between Canada and India. 

RCMP Asst. Commissioner David Teboul said co-operating police agencies are conducting “separate and distinct investigations” related to Nijjar’s killing, including looking into the involvement of the government of India.

He said Canadian law enforcement continues to liaise with agencies from other countries, but  described the relationship with the national police of India as being “rather challenging and difficult.” 

WATCH | IHIT Supt. Mandeep Mooker speaks about the investigation that led to the three arrests:

RCMP arrests 3 people in connection with killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar

6 hours ago

Duration 1:44

Supt. Mandeep Mooker of the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says three Indian nationals were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in relation to the June 2023 killing of B.C. Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

At a press conference in Surrey, Sikh leaders squarely placed the blame for Nijjar’s killing on “transnational repression” by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Canadian politicians of every stripe must stand with the Canadian Sikhs’ right to peacefully advocate for a Khalistan without facing any violent retaliation from the Indian government,” said Bhupinder Hothi, general secretary of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Society.

Former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed said an outstanding question in the police investigation is proving to whom the murderers are linked.

“The interesting part is whether [investigators] were able to just get the hired hitmen … and whether they will be able to now link that right back to whether it’s a gang in India or it’s the Indian government,” said Heed, who is also a former West Vancouver police chief. 

three men in turbans
Moninder Singh, Bhupinder Singh Hoti and a family member walk into RCMP ‘E’ division headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The three men charged are expected to be transferred to B.C. by Monday morning, according to Integrated Homicide Investigation Team Supt. Mandeep Mooker.

Mooker said information and co-operation from the Sikh community had greatly aided the investigation.

“We would not be at this point without the bravery and courage of the Sikh community coming forward,” he said.  

Sources close to the investigation told CBC News that police are actively investigating possible links to three additional murders in Canada, including the shooting death of an 11-year-old boy in Edmonton.


Posted in CBC