Canada PM hails ‘rule of law’ after arrests in Sikh separatist murder

Canada PM hails ‘rule of law’ after arrests in Sikh separatist murder
Canada PM hails ‘rule of law’ after arrests in Sikh separatist murder

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner, Brian Edwards,, speaks to the media at RCMP Headquarters after three men were arrested on Friday for the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. — AFP pic

MONTREAL, May 5 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today acknowledged fear in Canada’s Sikh community but underscored the “rule of law” after three arrests in connection with last year’s killing of a Sikh separatist in Vancouver.

Police arrested three men on Friday for the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which triggered a diplomatic rift between Canada and India last fall after Trudeau suggested Indian government involvement in the homicide.

Speaking Saturday at a gala in Toronto to celebrate Sikh heritage and culture, Trudeau acknowledged that many in Canada’s Sikh community are “feeling uneasy, and perhaps even frightened right now,” but urged faith in the justice system.

“Let us remain calm and us remain steadfast in our commitment to our democratic principles and our system of justice,” he said.

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Trudeau said the arrests were “important because Canada is a rule of law country with a strong and independent justice system, as well as a fundamental commitment to protecting all its citizens.”

Three Indian nationals, two aged 22 and one aged 28, were arrested Friday on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges.

They are accused of being the shooter, driver and lookout on the day Nijjar was killed.

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Police said they were still investigating the ties of the suspects, “if any, to the Indian government,” and whether others may have been involved.

Nijjar — who immigrated to Canada in 1997 and became a citizen in 2015 — advocated for a separate Sikh state, known as Khalistan, carved out of India.

He was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder.

On June 18, 2023, he was shot dead by masked assailants in the parking lot of the Sikh temple he led in suburban Vancouver.

Trudeau announced several months later that Canada had “credible allegations” linking Indian intelligence to the killing and expelled an Indian official, touching off a diplomatic tit-for-tat with New Delhi.

India dismissed the allegations as “absurd” and responded furiously, briefly curbing visas for Canadians and forcing Ottawa to withdraw diplomats.

In November, the US Justice Department charged an Indian citizen living in the Czech Republic with allegedly plotting a similar assassination attempt on American soil. — AFP

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