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Surrey RCMP rejects allegations in Washington Post story about Nijjar murder

The RCMP flatly denied its officers were slow to get there and squabbled with Surrey Police Service members about who would lead the investigation

The RCMP in Surrey have rejected the notion its officers squabbled with members of the Surrey Police Service in the hours after the June shooting death of activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The Washington Post published the allegations in a story on Monday, which also detailed a new 90-second video showing at least two vehicles and six suspects were involved in the murder. Its analysis suggests the shooting in the parking lot of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara was a well-co-ordinated and sophisticated attack.

In comments made in its original version of the story, Washington Post quoted one of those at the scene saying Mounties and members of the Surrey Police Service had an “hours-long tussle” over who would take the lead in the investigation.

That assertion was flatly denied in a statement released Tuesday by Surrey RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Vanessa Munn.

“It was suggested that there was a conflict regarding which police agency would ‘head the investigation,'” said Munn.

“However, as the police of jurisdiction, Surrey RCMP is responsible for all police investigations in Surrey. There is nothing to indicate this investigation was delayed in any way, either in the initial response or in subsequent investigative steps.”

Surrey Police Service officers currently work under RCMP supervision in the city.

Witnesses also told the Post it took police 10 to 20 minutes to arrive at the gurdwara on June 18. But the RCMP said the first officers arrived less than four minutes after the initial 8:27 p.m. 911 call, and more officers got there soon after.

Munn said the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team — which is in charge of Lower Mainland murder investigations except in Delta and Vancouver — was called in and is conducting the investigation.

Asked why IHIT didn’t reveal the video evidence showing more suspects and vehicles were involved earlier, Munn said that’s a question for IHIT. However, IHIT has said it is not releasing more information.

Sikh leaders here and abroad have characterized Nijjar’s killing as an assassination orchestrated by Narendra Modi’s Indian government, which has called the claim “absurd.”

Nijjar’s murder has been linked, including by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to Indian officials opposed to the Sikh leader’s views on an independent Khalistan in Punjab. Trudeau said his information came from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.