Man accused in death of Sikh activist appeared in court just 2 days before the killing

Amandeep Singh, who resided in Brampton, Surrey and Abbotsford, has been arrested in connection with the killing of B.C. Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. (IHIT - image credit)
Amandeep Singh, who resided in Brampton, Surrey and Abbotsford, has been arrested in connection with the killing of B.C. Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. (IHIT - image credit)

Amandeep Singh, the fourth man charged in connection with the killing of prominent Sikh-Canadian activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was already caught up in the Canadian justice system at the time of Nijjar's death, CBC News has learned.

The Indian national, who entered Canada on a temporary visa, appeared in a Surrey, B.C. courtroom to answer charges on an unrelated matter just two days before, according to police, he lay in wait for Nijjar at the entrance to the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara. Nijjar was shot multiple times and died at the scene.

Amandeep Singh had been arrested in Surrey, B.C. on a warrant after fleeing from police in March 2023. He was charged with flight from police and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and made a first court appearance on June 16, 2023. Nijjar was killed on June 18.

Court documents show that his case came up before the court again 19 days after the killing, on July 7, and was proceeding through the system toward a trial, scheduled for later this year, when he was arrested on separate firearms and drug charges in Brampton, Ont. last November.

B.C. court documents from last June also show that Singh signed an undertaking agreeing to not possess firearms or ammunition, and to not be in the driver's seat of any motor vehicle.

Amandeep Singh was not among the first group of three men arrested by the RCMP in connection with Nijjar's killing on May 3 in raids in the Edmonton area. At the time, he was already in custody in Ontario for the November charges.

British Columbia's Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) charged him in the Nijjar case on May 11. IHIT said it had "pursued the evidence and gained sufficient information for the B.C. Prosecution Service to charge Amandeep Singh with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder."

On Wednesday, he appeared in a Surrey provincial court virtually from a detention centre in Ontario to answer those charges.

He now faces the same charges as co-accused Karan Brar, Karanpreet Singh and Kamalpreet Singh, who are all alleged to have participated in killing Nijjar.

This still of security footage shows Hardeep Singh Nijjar leaving the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on the evening of June 18, 2023.
This still of security footage shows Hardeep Singh Nijjar leaving the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on the evening of June 18, 2023.

This still image from security footage shows Hardeep Singh Nijjar leaving the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on the evening of June 18, 2023. (Submitted by name withheld)

All four men charged with Nijjar's murder are expected to appear in court next Tuesday, May 21. None of them have entered a plea yet.

Sources inside the police investigation, and sources in the government of Canada with knowledge of its intelligence-gathering and intelligence-sharing with Five Eyes partners, have told CBC News that evidence connects the murder plot directly to the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now campaigning to win a third term as leader of the world's most populous nation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, walks past India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's cremation site, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, walks past India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's cremation site, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, walks past India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's cremation site, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Like the other three accused, Amandeep Singh is believed by investigators to be affiliated with an Indian organized crime group led by Punjabi gangster Lawrence Bishnoi.

He divided his time between Surrey, Abbotsford B.C. and Brampton, all home to large Sikh communities.

Amandeep Singh has been in custody since his car was stopped in Brampton on Nov. 3 by the Special Enforcement Bureau of the Peel Regional Police. Police say he was found in possession of a Fabrique Nationale Model 509 semi-automatic pistol with a 24-round extended magazine loaded with 20 9mm rounds.

Another car stopped later the same day was searched and found to contain two more extended magazines.

Pistol magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds are prohibited items under Canadian law.

Singh was charged with a number of firearms offences as well as two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Four other men were arrested in the two vehicle stops: Jobanpreet Singh, 20, Maninder Singh, 21, Ramanpreet Singh, 30, and Swaranpreet Singh, 20. All are listed as residents of Brampton and all remain in custody on firearms possession charges. They were not charged with drug offences and are not accused in the Nijjar murder.