Tara Singh Hayer's Murder called revenge attack

Wednesday, July 21, 1999

UPDATE: Murder of Tara Singh Hayer labelled revenge attack

21 July 1999

According to Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), after interviewing more than two hundred individuals in the course of their investigation of the murder of publisher and editor Tara Singh Hayer, police are suggesting that the shooting was motivated by an editorial which appeared in Hayer's newspaper, the "Indo-Canadian Times", rather than a political or religious dispute.

Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) Corporal Grant Learned told the Canadian Press that "[RCMP] investigators have focused on the one theory that this particular homicide was prompted as a result of a personal revenge killing." He added that a long-time Edmonton resident was currently "at the forefront of police interest" in the case, though police refused to identify the suspect. On 15 July 1999, "The Toronto Star" newspaper reported that investigators had followed leads from Vancouver to India, Pakistan, Europe and the USA. No arrests have been made in the case.

That same day, "The Globe and Mail" daily explained that in citing the revenge motive for Hayer's killing, the RCMP also dismissed the possibility of a link between the deadly incident and suspects in the as yet unsolved 1985 Air India bombing in which all 329 passengers and crew members were killed, as well as the theory that factions within British Columbia's Sikh community who are engaged in a dispute over religious rituals in Sikh temples were involved in Hayer's killing.

As the "Star" reported, the police's substantiation of the motive behind Hayer's murder shocked journalists in Canada, who are worried about the impact the incident may have in discouraging reporters from covering potentially controversial stories. The paper recalled that Hayer's murder represents the first time that a Canadian journalist has been killed in Canada in connection with his reporting.

Hayer was shot to death in the garage of his Surrey, British Columbia home on the evening of 18 November 1998 while moving from his car to his wheelchair. Hayer - a recipient of the Order of Canada and many other awards - was an outspoken critic of violent Sikh extremists and had already been the target of an assassination attempt at his newspaper office in 1988.

He had been left partially paralysed in the earlier attack. Hayer's newspaper, the "Indo-Canadian Times", is Canada's largest and oldest Punjabi-language weekly.

For more background on the case, click here.

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