World

Demonstrations as three men accused of Nijjar murder face B.C. court

The accused appeared by video in front of a packed courtroom with another 50 in an overflow room and another hundred waving flags and carrying signs outside Surrey court

Article content

Three Indian nationals charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in last year’s shooting death of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar appeared briefly by video in a Surrey court on Tuesday.

The three Edmonton men — Karan Brar and Kamalpreet Singh, both 22, and Karanpreet Singh, 28 — are in custody in Surrey’s North Fraser remand jail and wore red T-shirts or sweatshirts and sweatpants.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

They appeared separately by video in front of a packed Surrey provincial court room to acknowledge the charges of first-degree murder and conspiring to commit murder and to agree to have their cases adjourned to May 21 to give them time to consult with their lawyers.

The court granted the Crown prosecutor’s request for a no-contact order naming seven people under a Canada Criminal Code section that bans the accused from communicating directly or indirectly with any of them. Those named on the order are Nijjar’s son Balraj Nijjar, 21, and Harjinder Nijjar, Mehtab Nijjar, Sarandeep Sehaj, Harsimranjeet Singh, Arshdeep Kapoor and Malkit Singh.

surrey
Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday. (NICK PROCAYLO/PNG) Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10104674A

In addition to the 40 spectators in court, there were about 50 in an overflow room with a video feed of the proceedings and about 100 people outside waving flags and holding signs in support of carving an independent Sikh state, known as Khalistan, from India. Some carried signs featuring the faces of the three suspects and the words “Indian agents arrested.”

Two of the accused appeared in the morning while Kamalpreet Singh’s appearance was delayed to after lunch to give him time to consult with a lawyer.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

All three agreed to have the hearing conducted in English.

(COMBO) This combination of handout pictures courtesy of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team created on May 3, 2024 shows the booking pictures of (from L) Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh and Karan Brar, charged in relation to the homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Canadian police on May 3, 2024 arrested three men over the killing last year in Vancouver of a Sikh separatist, whose death has been linked to the Indian government. The murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar plunged Canada and India into a serious diplomatic crisis last fall after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Indian government involvement in the homicide.
The booking pictures of (from left) Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh and Karan Brar, charged with murdering Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Integrated Homicide Investigatio

Nijjar, who was a leading proponent of Khalistan, was gunned down as he left Surrey’s Guru Nanak Gurdwara after evening prayer on June 18. Members of the Sikhs for Justice immediately blamed the Indian government because Nijjar played a key role in the Sikh separatist movement.

The three men had a brief appearance before an adjudicator on Saturday for an interim judicial release hearing, after which they were kept in custody.

Their next step would be to have their lawyers apply for bail, said Surrey criminal and immigration lawyer Affan Bajwa, who has no connection to the case.

Bajwa said their chances of being released on bail would depend on whether their lawyers could make a strong case to the judge.

“I think it may be difficult for them to be released on bail because of a possible flight risk and risk to public safety,” he said.

Bajwa also said if the case goes ahead, the men would be tried in Canada and if found guilty of first degree murder would have no chance of parole for at least 25 years.

If they are foreign nationals or permanent residents, as soon as they’re released, they would face a deportation hearing by the Canada Border Services Agency, he said.

Advertisement 4

Article content

If found not guilty, they could still be deported, according to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in September in which the nine judges unanimously ruled that a foreign national could be deemed inadmissible to Canada on security grounds under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of “being a danger to the security of Canada,” according to Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dave Teboul told reporters last week there are several investigations in the case, including one looking into any Indian government links to the Nijjar murder.

rcmp
RCMP chief superintendent David Teboul Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

The case has strained relations between Canada and India after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last September there was credible intelligence linking India’s government to Nijjar’s assassination. India has denied any connection to the killing, calling the claim “absurd.”

RCMP wouldn’t provide any details about the immigration status of the accused, whether they had links to an Indian gang headed by Lawrence Bishnoi or whether they might have been sleeper agents of the Indian government because the case is before the courts.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Postmedia News sources confirmed the accused killers did arrive in Canada with student visas and have some links to both the Bishnoi group and B.C.-based gangs.

The RCMP and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team confirmed the possibility of more arrests and more suspects in the high-profile murder.

Meanwhile, India’s Foreign Affairs Minister accused Canada of welcoming criminals from India.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also called Ottawa the No. 1 driver of what he described as a violent movement of Sikhs trying to carve their own country out of India.

“It’s not so much a problem in the U.S. Our biggest problem right now is in Canada,” Jaishankar said Saturday during remarks at a forum for intellectuals in India.

Jaishankar said the federal Liberals and other unspecified political parties “pander” to Sikh separatists for votes and “have given these kinds of extremism, separatism, advocates of violence a certain legitimacy in the name of free speech.”

Last year’s protests against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government after Nijjar’s death included posters calling on people to “kill India” and offering cash rewards for the home addresses of Indian officials.

Advertisement 6

Article content

Jaishankar said he has asked Foreign Minister Melanie Joly about “attacks or threats” to India’s diplomatic missions and staff in Canada.

“I tell the foreign minister (Joly) saying, ’Suppose it happened to you, if it was your diplomat, your embassy, your flag, how would you react?’” he said.

Jaishankar also reiterated his ministry’s insistence that Ottawa is allowing criminal elements to operate in Canada and affiliate with Sikh separatists.

“Somebody may have been arrested; the police may have done some investigation. But the fact is a number of gangland people, a number of people with organized crime links from Punjab, have been made welcome in Canada,” he said, referring to the Indian region the Khalistan movement wants to take over.

“These are wanted criminals from India, you have given them visas … and yet you allow them to live there.”

surrey
Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday. (NICK PROCAYLO/PNG) Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10104674A
surrey
Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday. (NICK PROCAYLO/PNG) Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10104674A

With files from Kim Bolan and Canadian Press


Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.

You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.

Article content

Source

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX INDEX