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Testimony: Babbar Khalsa Ordered Tara Singh Hayer Slaying

Tarsem Singh Purewal, seen in the picture below, was the editor/publisher of Britain's best-selling Punjabi weekly newspaper Des Pardes. He was assassinated at 8:15 p.m. on January 24, 1995 while pulling down the shutters outside his office in Southall in west London with a single bullet through the chest. Des Pardes is now edited by Gurbux Singh Virk.

CanWest News Service, Dec. 14, 2003

Sikh publisher Tara Singh Hayer [former editor of the Indo-Canadian Times] was assassinated in 1998 [November 18, at his home in Surrey, B.C.] by two Indo-Canadian gangsters [10 years after being paralysed by another gunman] on the orders of the terrorist group Babbar Khalsa for a $50,000 fee, according to information provided to police three years ago. The hit was so successfully carried out that the two young men were then approached about killing Sikh moderate leader Balwant Singh Gill for another '50 grand,' police were also told in the fall of 2000. Chilling details about the murder were relayed in an unrelated B.C. Supreme Court murder trial last month. This trial is ongoing. No journalists were present for the explosive testimony of Delta police Staff-Sgt. John Robin, who first received the account of the Hayer slaying from a lawyer of one of the men accused in the unrelated gang slaying.

Court transcripts of Robin's testimony, obtained by the Vancouver Sun, include details of Hayer's November 18, 1998 assassination and several other unsolved gangland hits. Robin was testifying at the murder trial of Hardip Uppal, who is accused of killing his former gang associate Gurpreet Singh Sohi in Delta on September 14, 2000. Two other Indo-Canadian gangsters, Ravinder 'Robbie' Soomel and Gurwinder 'Gogi' Mann, were convicted of first-degree murder last May in Sohi's slaying. Uppal told his lawyer, John Stowe, that Soomel confessed he was 'the wheelman' in the Hayer killing. Stowe then provided the information to police in the hopes of striking an immunity deal for Uppal in the Sohi murder. Hayer was expected to be a witness in the Air India bomb trial when he was shot to death.

'Robbie Soomel told me that he and Daljit Basran took a contract from a named individual associated with Babbar Khalsa to kill Tara Singh Hayer,' Uppal said, according to testimony. 'Robbie Soomel told me that he was the driver of the getaway car and Daljit Basran was the shooter . . . Robbie Soomel told me subsequently that he was approached by a named individual associated with Babbar Khalsa and was asked to kill Balwant Singh Gill.' Basran, who works as a taxi driver, is a suspect in at least two other murders. He was arrested by Delta police in November 2000 and charged with the unsolved 1999 slaying of Deepak Sodhi, but the charges were stayed less than a month later.

Uppal waived his informant's privilege at a pre-trial conference last September, enabling his lawyer to identify him at his trial as the person who provided detailed information to police about a number of murders, including Hayer's. The man Uppal claimed paid the $50,000 - Doc Bahia - faces a series of charges, including trafficking, kidnapping, aggravated assault and unlawful confinement. A 1999 murder charge against him was stayed. His cousin, Heera, who was slain last year, was once arrested with Soomel.

Staff-Sgt. Wayne Rideout, who is with the R.C.M.P.'s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said it is difficult to comment on the information when the Uppal trial is before the courts and while the cases are active. Soomel, who is appealing his murder conviction, remains a suspect in several other slayings. His lawyer for the appeal, Ian Donaldson, did not return phone calls. Crown prosecutor Ralph Keefer declined to comment when asked about Robin's testimony at the trial. Stowe did not return phone calls. Robin also declined to comment.