Fourth Indian arrested and charged in Canada over Sikh activist’s killing

Amandeep Singh, 22, was already in custody for unrelated gun charges before being charged in Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder.

Canada India killing
A poster asking for an investigation into India's role in the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada [Chris Helgren/Reuters]

A fourth Indian national has been arrested and charged by the Canadian authorities over the killing of a separatist Sikh activist in Vancouver last year – a case that has strained diplomatic relations with India.

Amandeep Singh, 22, was already in custody for unrelated gun charges before being charged with “first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder” in the slaying of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said on Saturday.

Singh lived in the cities of Brampton, Surrey and Abbotsford.

Three other Indian nationals were arrested earlier this month in the city of Edmonton in Alberta, with the authorities saying they were investigating whether the men had ties to the Indian government.

Kamalpreet Singh, 22; Karan Brar, 22; and Karanpreet Singh, 28, appeared in court on Tuesday via videolink and agreed to a trial in English. They have also been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Sikh leaders in North America have welcomed the arrests, but allegations that the Indian government was involved have fuelled questions and unease.

Nijjar, 45, was shot dead in June outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population. He was campaigning for the creation of Khalistan, an independent Sikh homeland carved out of India.

India has long been embittered by Sikh separatist groups in Canada and had deemed Nijjar a “terrorist”.

Shortly after his death, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was evidence of potential Indian government involvement in Nijjar’s murder, which led to a backlash from India.

New Delhi dismissed the allegations as “absurd” and responded furiously, briefly curbing visas for Canadians and forcing Ottawa to withdraw diplomats.

In November, the US Department of Justice charged an Indian citizen, Nikhil Gupta, living in the Czech Republic with plotting a similar assassination attempt on US soil.

Prosecutors said in unsealed court documents that an Indian government official was also involved in the planning to assassinate Sikh-American activist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

The shock allegations came after US President Joe Biden hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a rare state visit as Washington seeks closer ties with India against China’s growing influence.

US intelligence agencies have assessed that the plot on US soil was approved by India’s top spy official at the time, Samant Goel, The Washington Post reported in April.

About 770,000 Sikhs live in Canada, nearly 2 percent of the country’s population and the largest number of the community outside India.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies