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Suspect arrested in Brampton for Hardeep Singh Nijjar killing was allegedly one of two gunmen

Click to play video: 'Hardeep Singh Nijjar: 4th suspect arrested in Sikh leader’s murder allegedly 1 of 2 gunmen'
Hardeep Singh Nijjar: 4th suspect arrested in Sikh leader’s murder allegedly 1 of 2 gunmen
WATCH: Global News has learned the fourth suspect arrested in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar was allegedly one of two gunmen who shot the B.C. Sikh leader outside a Sikh temple last June. – May 12, 2024

An Indian citizen arrested in Ontario on Saturday was allegedly one of the two gunmen who shot B.C. Sikh temple leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Global News has learned.

Amandeep Singh, 22, is the fourth suspect charged so far with Nijjar’s killing, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has linked to the Indian government.

The resident of Brampton, Ont. was charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He has been in custody since November on unrelated charges.

According to a source familiar with the case, Singh is believed to be one of the armed men who opened fire on Nijjar as he was leaving the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Surrey, B.C. on June 18, 2023.

The shooters were then seen running to a getaway car.

Nijjar was a Canadian citizen, temple president and prominent leader of the Khalistan movement, which seeks independence for India’s Sikh-majority Punjab state.

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The government of Prime Minister Nahendra Modi had long accused him of leading a terrorist group behind attacks in India — although no credible evidence was ever produced.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar (front in yellow turban) at pro-Khalistan rally. Facebook

The latest charges followed the May 3 arrests in Edmonton of Karan Brar, 22, Kamalpreet Singh, 22 and Karanpreet Singh, 28. All are Indian nationals. They appeared in Surrey court last week.

Like his co-accused, Amandeep Singh arrived in Canada on a temporary visa, but was allegedly involved in violent crime, the source said. The RCMP said he had lived in Brampton, Surrey and Abbotsford, B.C.

The four hitmen are suspected of links to India’s violent Bishnoi crime group, which has spread into Canada. Investigations into the suspected role of the Indian government are still underway.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

Canada’s national security agencies have been investigating an emerging trend in which foreign intelligence services are suspected of contracting out killings to crime groups.

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Kamalpreet Singh (left), Karanpreet Singh (centre), and Karan Brar (right) have been charged with murder and conspiracy to murder in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. RJB

On Nov. 3, 2023, Singh was one of five men charged with firearms and drug offences following a traffic stop in Brampton by the Peel police Specialized Enforcement Bureau.

During the arrests, police seized an FN 509 9mm pistol with a 24-round extended magazine, and two extended magazines with 24-round capacities containing 9mm ammunition, police said at the time.

Singh was charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm, knowledge of unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm and possession of a prohibited device.

He was also charged with possession of a loaded prohibited or restricted firearm, failure to comply with a release order and possession of a controlled substance, among other offences.

Arrested along with Singh at the time were Ramanpreet Singh, 30, Maninder Singh, 21, Swaranpreet Singh, 20, and Jobanpreet Singh, 20. All were described by police as Brampton residents.

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Click to play video: 'Indian national suspect in Nijjar killing got his student visa in days'
Indian national suspect in Nijjar killing got his student visa in days

Those close to Nijjar immediately blamed the Indian government for his killing, which they portrayed as an act of transnational repression meant to silence an outspoken activist in the international Khalistan movement.

Three months after the murder, Trudeau went public with allegations that investigators had found credible evidence that Indian government agents may have been involved.

India has denied the accusation, despite a similar plot uncovered by the FBI, in which an Indian intelligence agent allegedly hired a drug trafficker to kill one of Nijjar’s associates, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Both men were influential leaders of the Khalistan movement, which India views as a national security threat, although there is little to indicate they were more than political activists.

Pannun, lawyer for the group Sikhs for Justice, said in a statement Sunday that while the “foot soldiers” had been arrested, the “kingpins” had not.

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He pointed the finger at India’s diplomatic representatives in Canada and agents of its foreign intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW.

If Canada is to end “this wave of transnational violence, Indian diplomats who oversee RAW’s espionage operations in Canada must be held accountable and face legal proceedings,” he said.

Only “such decisive actions can dismantle the networks that enable and perpetuate acts of violence against Canadians on Canadian soil.”

The RCMP told reporters at a news conference on May 3 that multiple investigations were still underway, and police were examining the suspected involvement of the Indian government.

Click to play video: 'Hardeep Singh Nijjar: India seeking information from Canada on arrests'
Hardeep Singh Nijjar: India seeking information from Canada on arrests

The arrests have raised questions about what the men were doing in Canada, amid criticism of Liberal government policies that have fueled a sharp spike in temporary residents.

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Brar had allegedly come to Canada on a student visa that he said in a video he had obtained quickly with the help of an immigration consulting firm with offices in India and Saskatchewan.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service last week named India as one of the “major perpetrators” of foreign interference and espionage in Canada, along with China, Russia and Iran.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

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