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India accuses Canada of ‘glorifying terrorism’  

New Delhi has called out Ottawa’s inaction against Khalistan separatists as the 329 victims of a 1985 plane bombing were mourned 

India’s High Commission in Canada on Sunday condemned the “routine” glorification of terrorism in the country while mourning the victims of a 1985 plane bombing that killed 329 people. 

Air India flight 182, scheduled to fly from Montreal to London and then on to Delhi and Bombay (now Mumbai) exploded mid-air after a bomb allegedly planted by Sikh extremists went off. The victims included 268 Canadian citizens, mostly of Indian origin, and 24 Indians.   

Canada is home to the world’s largest Sikh population outside India, but also has a large contingent of radical Sikhs, who press for the creation of a separate nation state carved out of India. The 1985 attack is believed to have been carried out by such radicals as revenge for a military operation led by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi against Sikh militants. 

The Indian High Commission in its statement noted that the perpetrators and co-conspirators of the “dastardly act” remained free. Charges against the alleged mastermind of the attack, Talwinder Singh Parmar, were ultimately dropped. He ended up being killed in India years later.  

“Any act of glorifying terrorism including the bombing of AI-182, in 1985 is deplorable and should be condemned by all peace-loving countries and people,” the Indian High Commission stated. It added that it is “unfortunate” that such actions are allowed to be “routine” in Canada.  

READ MORE: India summons Canadian diplomat over separatist slogans

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said that the “anniversary [was] a reminder why terrorism should never be tolerated.” 

Meanwhile, Khalistan activists were seen at a mourning ceremony in Vancouver, British Colombia, bearing flags and posters condemning India, according to independent journalist Mocha Bezirgan. In footage posted by Bezirgan, mourners can be seen arguing with Khalistan activists. “This has nothing to do with Khalistan,” a grieving family member can be heard saying.  

The development comes amid strained relations between New Delhi and Ottawa over allegations voiced last year by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He linked “Indian agents” to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist, on Canadian soil.

India has vehemently denied the claims, and accused Canada of harboring “terrorists.” 

Tensions mounted again last week when the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons honored Nijjar with a moment of silence to mark the first anniversary of his death. Elsewhere, activists commemorated the anniversary by staging a mock murder trial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside the Indian consulate in Vancouver. 

READ MORE: India responds to airline threat by Sikh separatists

Nijjar’s murder is linked with another case – an assassination attempt on US-based lawyer and Khalistan leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the founder of the Sikhs for Justice organization, which is banned in India.

Both Pannun and Nijjar had been designated as terrorists by New Delhi. Last December, Pannun issued veiled threats, advising Sikhs to “avoid” an Air India flight on a particular day. 

June 25, 2024 at 02:21AM

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