Canada has arrested a fourth Indian citizen in connection with the murder of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nanjar.

Canadian authorities have charged a fourth Indian national in connection with the 2023 killing of separatist Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Najjar in Vancouver, AFP reported.

It added that 22-year-old Amandeep Singh, who was already in custody on unrelated gun charges, now faces charges of “first-degree murder and conspiracy to murder” in the alleged “murder” of Najjar.

This follows the recent arrests of three other Indian nationals in connection with the same case.

Diplomatic tensions

The incident has fueled diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and New Delhi after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Indian intelligence was involved in the alleged “assassination” plot.

Najjar was shot and killed by masked men in the parking lot of a Sikh temple in suburban Vancouver on June 18, 2023.

Najjar was a Khalistani advocate demanding a separate Sikh state in India. He moved to Canada in 1997 and acquired citizenship in 2015. The charges against him included “terrorism” and conspiracy to murder, which were framed by the Indian government. However, Najjar consistently denied this, the report added.

Canada is home to about 770,000 Sikhs, who make up about two percent of the country's population. Within this community, there is a vocal minority advocating the establishment of Khalistan as an independent state.

International influences

Trudeau has claimed that Canada has “credible allegations” linking Indian intelligence to Najjar's murder. This drew a strong response from India, resulting in temporary visa restrictions for Canadians and the recall of diplomats.

In a related development, the US Department of Justice has also charged an Indian national living in the Czech Republic with planning a similar assassination attempt on US soil. Court documents indicated the involvement of an Indian government official in the scheme.

The development comes amid US efforts to strengthen ties with India in response to China's growing influence. Reports suggested that the plot on American soil had the alleged approval of Sumant Goyal, India's former top intelligence official.

(with input from AFP)

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