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Nijjar murder suspect says he had Canadian study permit

Immigration firm’s video shows Karan Brar saying his ‘study visa has arrived’
Karan Brar is shown in this undated police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP

One of the Indian nationals accused of murdering British Columbia Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar says in a social media video that he received a Canadian study permit with the help of an Indian immigration consultancy.

In the Facebook video posted in December 2019 by EthicWorks Immigration Services and first reported by Global News, Karan Brar says his “study visa has arrived,” while a photo shows him holding up what appears to be a passport with a Canadian study permit inside.

A caption by EthicWorks congratulates Brar and calls him “one more happy client from Kotkapura,” referring to a city in the Punjab region of India.

A separate Facebook account belonging to a Karan Brar from Kotkapura and showing photos resembling the suspect suggests that he started studying at Calgary’s Bow Valley College in April 2020 before moving to Edmonton one month later.

Bow Valley College spokeswoman Shannon van Leenen said in a statement that a student named Karan Brar was enrolled in the college’s eight-month Hospital Unit Clerk certificate program in 2020, but she could not confirm if it was the same person as the man charged in Nijjar’s murder.

In a separate, expanded statement, the college said it “does not have a record of ever having an affiliation with a company named EthicWorks Immigration Services.”

“International admissions are premised on meeting Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada requirements, program prerequisites, and academic requirements,” the statement said. “We have a record of ethical recruitment of international students, including working with agents who are vetted through a rigorous and annual review process.”

The college declined to say whether the student named Karan Brar had completed their course.

It said India is one of its largest sources of students. Indian students “form an important community on campus that contributes to richer discussions, presents different world views, and challenges assumptions in and outside the classroom,” the statement said.

EthicWorks, which says it has offices in the Punjab and in Kitchener, Ont., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brar, Kamalpreet Singh and Karanpreet Singh were arrested in Edmonton last week and are scheduled to appear in Surrey provincial court on May 21 on charges of murder and conspiracy.

Nijjar’s killing triggered an unravelling of the relationship between Canada and India after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said credible intelligence implicated India’s government in the death, which it denies.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said it “cannot comment on active investigations or individual cases” when asked about the suspects’ immigration status.

“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada works closely with partners … to carry out a comprehensive security screening to help identify those who might pose a threat to Canadians and to mitigate the potential security risks associated with those who seek to enter Canada,” it said in a statement on Tuesday, after the three suspects made their first appearance by video in Surrey provincial court.

It reiterated the statement when asked about the video on Wednesday.

Nijjar was the president of the Surrey gurdwara where he was shot and was also a vocal advocate for an independent Sikh state in India. He was regarded by the Indian government as a terrorist.

Protesters from Nijjar’s temple rallied outside the Surrey courthouse on Tuesday and filled the courtroom where the three accused appeared.

READ ALSO: Demonstrators gather outside Surrey court for hearing in Nijjar death

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Kamalpreet Singh is shown in this undated police handout photo. The third man charged in the murder of British Columbia Sikh temple leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar has set his next court appearance to coincide with that of the other two men accused in the case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP