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Three Edmonton men charged in Hardeep Singh Nijjar murder

‘We would not be at this point without the bravery and courage of the Sikh community’
At a press conference at BC RCMP Headquarters in Surrey, investigators, including RCMP assistant commissioner David Teboul (at podium) provided an update to media in the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Friday (May 3) afternoon. (Sobia Moman photo)

Three suspects from Edmonton have been arrested and charged in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey in June 2023.

Karan Brar, 22; Kamalpreet Singh, 22; and Karanpreet Singh, 28, have all been charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in relation to the homicide.

Karan Brar (Contributed photo)

None of the three individuals, who were arrested Friday (May 3) morning in Edmonton, Alta. were known to police, Supt. Mandeep Mooker of IHIT shared in an update to media on Friday at a press conference at BC RCMP Headquarters in Surrey.

Nijjar was shot to death on June 18, 2023 in the parking lot of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood just before 8:30 p.m. The 45-year-old, who was the temple president at the time, was found in his truck suffering from gunshot wounds. Nijjar succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Kamalpreet Singh (Contributed photo)

Assistant commissioner David Teboul, commander of the federal policing program in the Pacific region, said police would not be able to speak about the “nature of the evidence” collected by police, nor the motive behind the killing.

“I will say this matter is still very much under active investigation,” he said. “I will underscore that today’s announcements are not a complete account of the investigative work currently underway.”

Karanpreet Singh (Contributed photo)

Police would not speak to whether any of the three charged have involvement in gang activity in India.

While three people have been charged, Mooker said investigators believe there may be more individuals involved who are still at large.

Days after the shooting, Sgt. Timothy Pierotti of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) shared details of two suspects. According to investigators, the suspects — who were wearing face coverings — ran southbound on 122 Street, through Cougar Creek Park and onto 121 Street after the incident. A getaway vehicle was possibly waiting for them upon their arrival.

READ MORE: Two heavy-set suspects ran through park after Surrey temple president’s shooting, IHIT says

According to the Nijjar family, the temple president had been meeting with Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers regularly before his death, as threats against him were mounting. Balraj Nijjar said his father was told about the threats and was advised to stay home.

Nijjar was also a vocal advocate for the Khalistan movement, which advocates for a separate Sikh homeland in Punjab, India, which led to accusations against him of terrorism and separatism by the government.

READ MORE: CSIS warned B.C. Sikh temple leader of assassination threat before killing: lawyer

READ MORE: Nijjar, CSIS met regularly before he was killed in Surrey, son says

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a close associate of Nijjar’s, said Nijjar had asked authorities for a bulletproof vest weeks before he was killed but was told they could not provide one. The president was also told to avoid going to the gurdwara at his usual times and should avoid being seen in public, Pannun said.

But Balraj said his father did not want to hide.

While the Indian government has denied involvement in Nijjar’s death, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in September 2023 that there was “credible” information linking India to the killing.

At the Friday afternoon media conference, police said the claim of an Indian government link remains under investigation.

In a statement sent to Peace Arch News from Pannun, the lawyer reacted to the charges, maintaining his belief that the Indian government is responsible for his friend’s death.

“While today’s action by Canadian authorities, which led to the arrest of those directly involved in the killing, is a step forward, it only scratches the surface,” he states.

Pannun goes on to say his friend Nijjar was a peaceful and committed activist.

“Canadian politicians of every stripe must stand with the Canadian Sikhs right to peacefully advocate for Khalistan,” he continued.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke, in a statement issued May 3, urged the federal government to “take every opportunity to determine if there was foreign government involvement in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.”

“That question needs to be answered given the circumstances surrounding Mr. Nijjar’s murder,” she said.

Police noted the death of Nijjar was shocking and troubling to the Sikh community, not just around Surrey but all throughout the country.

“We would not be at this point without the bravery and courage of the Sikh community coming forward for Hardeep Nijjar’s murder investigation,” Mooker shared, adding the community was “instrumental” in the investigation.

Premier David Eby, in a statement issued Friday afternoon, said Nijjar’s murder has shaken the Sikh community in B.C., the larger South Asian community and Canadians across the country.

“There is disbelief and anger in the community in addition to the terrible loss being felt by Mr. Nijjar’s family and loved ones,” Eby said.

“I hope that today’s announcement of charges against three individuals is an important step towards justice for his family and accountability to the whole community.

“On behalf of all British Columbians, thank you to police and the RCMP Integrated Homicide Investigation Team for their months of diligent work. I understand the investigation doesn’t end here and is ongoing.

“We will support this process however we can, as these criminal proceedings continue.”

- with files from Canadian Press, Black Press Media staff

Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
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