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Nijjar murder suspect says he had Canadian study permit in immigration firm's video

Karan Brar is shown in this undated police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP Karan Brar is shown in this undated police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
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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 an individual 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.

EthicWorks, which says it has offices in the Punjab and in Kitchener, Ont., has not responded 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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2024.

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