Skip to content

Demonstrators gather outside Surrey court for hearing in Nijjar death

‘We come for him (Nijjar), we come for his family, we come for our people’: Sikh spokesperson
It was a heavy day for members of the Sikh community outside Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday, May 7 during the court appearance for the three suspects charged in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. (Sobia Moman photo)

The three suspects charged in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar appeared in Surrey provincial court Tuesday, with dozens of Sikh community members both inside and outside the hearing.

“The community was waiting 10 or 11 months for this day, so there’s a lot of emotion in the community right now. People wanted to come and just be present,” Moninder Singh, spokesperson for the BC Gurdwaras Council, told reporters outside court.

Karan Brar, Karanpreet Singh and Kamalpreet Singh appeared in court on Tuesday morning (May 7) after the three were arrested in Edmonton last week. All are facing charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the case of Nijjar, who was shot to death in the parking lot of the gurdwara he served as president for.

READ MORE: Three Edmonton men charged in Hardeep Singh Nijjar murder

All three charged suspects appeared virtually in orange jumpsuits.

Brar and Karanpreet Singh agreed through their lawyers to make their next appearance in Surrey court on May 21 at 9:30 a.m. by video. Meanwhile, Kamalpreet Singh’s next appearance is yet to be determined as he seeks legal representation.

Community members outside came with flags and signs, with some reciting religious chants quietly under their breaths as they waited to hear about the next steps in the judicial hearing.

“We come for him (Nijjar), we come for his family, we come for our people, so it’s an important moment, but at the same time, some people thought today would’ve been more, but at a minimum we’re very pleased that this process has started,” Moninder Singh said.

Nijjar was a known Sikh activist and president of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara who was killed on June 18, 2023 in the parking lot of the temple. The 45-year-old was found in his truck suffering from gunshot wounds around 8:30 p.m. before succumbing to his injuries at the scene.

The three Edmonton men, who are Indian nationals, were arrested and charged on Friday, May 3.

“We have a thing in Sikhi where there is not hatred. What they’ve done they have to pay for now, but our issue is still India. When I look at them, I don’t see anything except a couple people that were hired to carry out something on behalf of India,” Moninder stressed.

Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said there is credible evidence linking the Indian government to Nijjar’s killing, the possibility is still under investigation.

“They’re still young at the moment, they had their whole lives ahead of them. This is something they’ll have to pay for, probably pay for the rest of their lives for what they’ve done and broken up a family up in the way they have and devastated a community,” Moninder added.

“From a public safety standpoint, we don’t know what’s coming next. These three today, maybe a different three a year from now, so we have to be wary of that as well.”

The community still believes there are more suspects out there, the spokesperson added, the possibility also echoed by investigators who are appealing to the public for more information.

The charges against the three men were announced Friday (May 3) at a police press conference, where assistant commissioner David Teboul, commander of the federal policing program in the Pacific region, said police would not be able to speak about evidence or motive. He said the case is “still very much under active investigation.”

Premier David Eby, in a statement issued Friday afternoon, said Nijjar’s murder has shaken the Sikh community in B.C., the larger South Asian community and Canadians across the country.

“There is disbelief and anger in the community in addition to the terrible loss being felt by Mr. Nijjar’s family and loved ones,” Eby said.

“I hope that (Friday’s) announcement of charges against three individuals is an important step towards justice for his family and accountability to the whole community.

“On behalf of all British Columbians, thank you to police and the RCMP Integrated Homicide Investigation Team for their months of diligent work. I understand the investigation doesn’t end here and is ongoing.

“We will support this process however we can, as these criminal proceedings continue.”

Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
Read more