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Karan Brar is one of three men charged in connection with the shooting death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.Supplied

Before Karan Brar was accused of one of Canada’s highest-profile murders, he was a teen eager to leave his hometown in India’s Punjab state to study abroad.

In a Dec. 30, 2019, testimonial posted on the Facebook page of an Indian-Canadian immigration company called EthicWorks Immigration Services, Mr. Brar, looking clean-cut and sounding earnest, says he is from Kot Kapura and remarks how the consultants helped him secure a student visa “within a few days.”

“I really liked their services, so you should also apply for your visa with them,” he said.

This week, Mr. Brar sat hunched over with his arms crossed in a video conference room of a provincial jail as he appeared before a judge with two others facing murder charges. The three men are accused of plotting to kill Hardeep Singh Nijjar from their home in Edmonton and then driving to Surrey, B.C., to shoot the Sikh leader in the parking lot of a temple, sparking an international furor.

The killing enraged the Sikh community in Canada, especially after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood in the House of Commons last September and stated that Canada’s spy agency had found evidence linking India to the daylight slaying. Sikh activists had always maintained that India orchestrated his killing because of Mr. Nijjar’s leadership in promoting the creation of an independent Sikh state, called Khalistan, that would be carved out from the South Asian country.

The Indian government has dismissed Mr. Trudeau’s claims and the resulting diplomatic crisis has affected everything from trade to tourism with the most populous country in the world.

After arrests in Hardeep Singh Nijjar killing, Trudeau addresses fears of Sikh community

The three were arrested last Friday. Along with Mr. Brar, RCMP have charged Kamalpreet Singh and Karanpreet Singh. All had all arrived in Canada on non-permanent visas in the past three to five years and all were residents of Alberta’s capital, according to Mounties.

An Ontario-based director of EthicWorks refused to comment Wednesday on the news that a former client was facing such charges.

Calgary’s Bow Valley College said a student named Karan Brar enrolled in 2020 to take an eight-month course to become a health care clerk. Shannon van Leenen, a spokesperson for the college, could not say whether he attended classes or completed the program.

Mr. Brar’s lawyer Richard Fowler did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Indian news agencies have reached out to the families of the three young men, all living in the Punjab, and reported more details on their lives.

The Tribune, an English-language daily newspaper serving northern India since 1881, reported over the weekend that Kamalpreet Singh came in 2019 to Edmonton, where his sister also lives. The outlet reported Karanpreet Singh was a friend and shared a home with him there. It also reported that Mr. Brar had attended the wedding of Kamalpreet Singh’s sister last year, which is when Mr. Brar met his co-accused.

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

With a report from The Canadian Press

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