Canada charges three Indian nationals with murder of Sikh separatist

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Canada’s authorities have arrested and charged three Indian nationals with the fatal shooting of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia last year, an event that heightened tensions between Ottawa and New Delhi.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they had arrested Karanpreet Singh, Kamalpreet Singh and Karan Brar in Edmonton, Alberta, on Friday. The three men were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside Vancouver in June.

“We are investigating if there are any ties to the government of India,” RCMP superintendent Mandeep Mooker told reporters. “There may be others involved,” he added, saying there are other ongoing investigations related to the killing.

Nijjar’s death complicated ties between Canada and India. Each country ordered the other to remove its diplomats, and India temporarily stopped providing visas to Canadian citizens. Last September, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were “credible allegations” linking New Delhi to the killing.

Police said they are collaborating with international partners, including agencies in the US. Authorities in Washington last year thwarted an attempt to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun — a Sikh separatist who is a US and Canadian citizen — on US soil.

Nijjar was fatally shot in a parking lot in the city of Surrey, where he led a Sikh temple, or gurdwara.

India’s government said he was a terrorist and part of a Sikh movement that wants to create an independent state of “Khalistan” in India’s Punjab state. New Delhi has called the claims that it was involved in Nijjar’s death “absurd”.

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