Nijjar killing: Canada may arrest 2 suspects 'within weeks', says report

Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Photo: IANS

Ottawa: Canadian police are close to arresting two men believed to be responsible for the fatal shooting of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the British Columbia province in June and are still in the country, according to a media report.

According to The Globe and Mail newspaper, the suspects are currently under police surveillance and are expected to be apprehended "in a matter of weeks."

According to three anonymous sources quoted by the newspaper, the two suspected killers did not leave Canada following Nijjar's assassination and have been under police surveillance for months.

The ties between India and Canada came under severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations in September of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Nijjar outside a gurdwara in Surrey city on June 18.

India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020. India has rejected Trudeau's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated". The report on Wednesday said that police will unveil details regarding the alleged involvement of the assassins and their connection to the Indian government when formal charges are filed.

"Within the community, there's a sense of closure that might come with the two people being arrested like it's being said," the Global News quoted Moninder Singh, spokesperson of BC Gurdwaras Council, as saying.

According to the report, the integrated homicide investigation team said it was aware of the reports of imminent arrests in Nijjar's murder but won't comment because it's an active investigation.

The Canadian allegations were followed by a US indictment in November outlining a foiled plot to kill a Canadian-American Sikh activist, the report said.

In November, the US federal prosecutors charged that one Nikhil Gupta was working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill a Sikh separatist, who holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada. Though the separatist Sikh leader was not named, media reports identified him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the leader of the Sikhs for Justice, an organisation banned in India.

India has already constituted a probe committee to investigate allegations by the US prosecutors. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha earlier this month that Canada has not shared any specific evidence or inputs with India.

Days after Trudeau's allegations in September, India temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens and asked Ottawa to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country to ensure parity. India resumed some visa services in Canada last month, more than a month after they were suspended. 

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