Were the killings in Canada a fallout of gang wars?

Canada killings

The release of the interim report by the Canadian Foreign Interference Commission (3 May 2024) and the arrest on the same day of three members of an alleged hit squad investigators believe was tasked by India with the killing of prominent Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, last June is surely not a remarkable coincidence.

It seems to be that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is up to his tricks again and continues to be in cahoots with his Khalistani supporters.

Seriously, the Canadian police have arrested a bunch of gangsters who probably killed another gangster, and Justin Trudeau wants to drag India into it! Even worse, for investigators to simultaneously put together three different killings and allege the Indian hand is going a bit too far.

The findings of the initial report of the Foreign Interference Commission make it clear that India’s involvement in the Canadian electoral process is a normal intelligence process, and to label it as interference is going over the top. But the first facts are about the arrest of the three accused and their connection to the criminal underworld in Canada!

Notably, the 3 May document “Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Process and Democratic Institutions”, an initial report released by the Foreign Interference Commission headed by Marie Josee-Hogue, talks of India in general terms. Based on intelligence briefings, the Commission alleged that India continued to conduct FI (foreign intelligence) activities in Canada, directly and through their Canadian proxies.

Specifically, it states that during “GE44 elections, Indian officials were observed expressing interest in individual electoral contests and likely hoped that pro-India candidates would prevail, or, at least, that perceived anti-India candidates would not be (re) elected.” The Commission also infers that “… a Government of India proxy agent may have attempted to clandestinely provide financial support to candidates in 2021."

Allegations of foreign interference by India in the Canadian electoral process have been going on for some time now. Further, the Canadian system has long claimed that the Government of India has been carrying out proxy killings on Canadian soil using contract killers for hire who are part of the Indo-Canadian criminal gang networks.

These allegations have come up again with the arrest (CBS news, 3 May 2024) by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) of Kamalpreet Singh, Karanpreet Singh and Karan Brar who face first-degree murder and conspiracy charges in the Nijjar case, according to documents filed in a Surrey court.

The charges have not been tested in court, but all three appeared before a judge virtually on 3 May. All three men arrested in Edmonton are Indian citizens and have been non-permanent residents of Canada for three to five years.

The men reportedly arrived in Canada on temporary visas after 2021, some of them student visas. None are believed to have pursued education while in Canada, and none have obtained permanent residency.

The RCMP is also actively investigating possible links of this “hit squad” to three additional murders in Canada, including the shooting death of an 11-year-old boy in Edmonton.

While the investigation is probing possible connections between Hardeep Singh Nijjar's killing and the Sukdool Singh Gill and Harpreet Singh Uppal cases, they are not convinced the Indian government is involved in the latter two.

Investigators say the Edmonton and Winnipeg killings may have had more to do with gangland rivalries and vendettas.

Given this, it is important to dig into the antecedents of the three men arrested by the Canadian police. All three are associates of the Lawrence Bishnoi, a notorious Punjabi gangster operating in the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana.

Bishnoi is currently being held in Sabarmati prison in Ahmedabad. He is accused of shooting and murdering Punjabi singer-politician Sidhu Moose Wala, a former resident of Brampton, Ont., in Punjab in May 2022, as well as drug smuggling and extortion. Bishnoi was one of two jailed Indian gangsters who claimed responsibility on social media for Sukhdool Singh Gill's killing last September, describing it as revenge for a previous gangland killing in India.

Gill also went by the alias Sukha Duneke and was allegedly part of the Davinder Bambiha gang in India. He fled to Canada in 2017 using a false passport and was one of Punjab's most wanted men, accused of extortion and arranging money for gang members to buy weapons. Police in India have publicly linked him to murders and other serious crimes.

A day before his killing, Gill's name and photo appeared on a list of 43 names of suspected terrorists drawn up by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which linked him to the separatist Khalistan Tiger Force. Nijjar was also part of the same organisation. Six weeks after Gill's death, another alleged Indian gangland figure, Harpreet Singh Uppal, a 41-year-old with links to organised crime, was shot dead in his vehicle in a busy suburban shopping area of Edmonton on 9 November 2023.

Earlier, India-Canada relations soured last year in the aftermath of the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a 45-year-old Canadian citizen, who was shot dead on 18 June last year, shortly after evening prayers at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurudwara in Surrey, B.C.

Even then, it was suspected that Nijjar’s killing was a result of gangland wars within the Punjabi Sikh community in Canada. Indo-Canadian criminal gangs were identified as the third largest group by the RCMP in terms of organisation and sophistication in British Columbia.

The challenge is that despite India having provided plenty of evidence of gangsters from Punjab operating on Canadian soil, Canadian authorities are loathe to take action against such elements. The primary issue is political convenience, as the current Trudeau administration has the support of the Sikh party (New Democratic Party) in Parliament.

Last August, Canadian officials reportedly told representatives of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in person that Canada had intelligence linking it to Nijjar's killing.

A month later, on 18 September 2023, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in the House of Commons that "Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India" and Nijjar's killing. Two days after Trudeau's statement in the House, Sukhdool Singh Gill, 39, of Winnipeg, was found shot to death in the city's northwest. India has long alleged that Punjabi gangsters are able to use Canada as a base to squeeze money from business owners and others in India, relying on an army of low-paid gunmen to act as collectors and enforcers back home.

Intergang rivalries among gangsters from Punjab are common in Canada now. Pro-India Sikh leader Ripudaman Singh Malik was killed in 2022 in Surrey, Canada, a murder that Nijjar reportedly orchestrated.

The above narrative makes it clear that gangland war killings have become commonplace in Canada today. Money, drugs, and, in some cases, weapons have become the medium for these rivalries and killings.

The Canadian state's inability to control criminal gangs operating on its soil has forced it to blame external actors. Similarly, the Canadian government has sought to sidestep the issue of major interference in its political and electoral process by China and has sought to divert attention by dragging India into it.

This is precisely why bilateral relations with India are at an all-time low. As long as the Canadian system fails in its duty to follow due process and makes unfounded allegations, this challenge will continue to dog them.

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