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Indian national charged in connection with Nijjar's murder appears before Canadian court

Amandeep Singh, a 22-year-old suspect in the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, appeared via video in a Surrey court on Wednesday, and the matter has been put forward to next week, local media reports said.
Last Updated : 16 May 2024, 11:22 IST
Last Updated : 16 May 2024, 11:22 IST

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Ottawa: An Indian national charged in connection with the killing of a Khalistani separatist appeared before a Canadian court, which ordered him to re-appear on May 21 alongside three co-accused arrested in the high-profile case that has severely strained India's relations with Canada.

Amandeep Singh, a 22-year-old suspect in the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, appeared via video in a Surrey court on Wednesday, and the matter has been put forward to next week, local media reports said.

Nijjar, 45, was killed outside Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18, 2023.

Amandeep was charged on May 11 with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, just over a week after identical charges were announced against three co-accused -- Karan Brar (22), Kamalpreet Singh (22) and 28-year-old Karanpreet Singh.

Amandeep appeared in court in Surrey virtually from Ontario, where he was already in the custody of Peel Regional Police for unrelated firearms charges.

A judge set his next court date for May 21 — when he'll appear alongside the other three men charged with conspiring to kill Nijjar.

His appearance before the court was marred by technical delays.

More than two dozen people gathered outside the courtroom before Amandeep's appearance, holding flags in support of Khalistan.

Amandeep, Karan Brar, Kamalpreet Singh and Karanpreet Singh are all Indian nationals. Police say Amandeep was splitting his time in Canada between Brampton, Abbotsford, and Surrey.

They are allegedly members of a hit squad that investigators believe was tasked by the government of India to carry out the murder of Nijjar, according to the Canadian media.

Amandeep was already caught up in the Canadian justice system at the time of Nijjar's death, CBC News reported.

The Indian national, who entered Canada on a temporary visa, appeared in a Surrey courtroom to answer charges on an unrelated matter just two days before he lay in wait for Nijjar at the entrance to the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, according to the report.

Amandeep had been arrested in Surrey on a warrant after fleeing from police in March 2023. He was charged with flight from police and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and made a first court appearance on June 16, 2023.

Court documents show that his case came up before the court again 19 days after the killing, on July 7, and was proceeding through the system toward a trial, scheduled for later this year, when he was arrested on separate firearms and drug charges in Brampton last November.

The ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations in September last year of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar.

India has dismissed Trudeau's charges as "absurd" and "motivated."

Nijjar, a Khalistani separatist, was wanted in India on various terror charges.

India has been asserting that its "core issue" with Canada remained that of the space given to separatists, terrorists and anti-India elements in that country.

Following Trudeau's allegations last year, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens. The visa services were resumed several weeks later.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had recently said that by allowing political space to Khalistani separatist elements, the Canadian government is sending a message that its vote bank is "more powerful" than its rule of law.

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Published 16 May 2024, 11:22 IST

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