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As Canada honours Nijjar, India announces memorial service for 1985 AI terror attack

'India stands at the forefront of countering the menace of terrorism and works closely with all nations to tackle this global threat,' New Delhi’s consular mission in Vancouver posted on X.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 06:58 IST

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Even as the relations between New Delhi and Ottawa remain tense over the alleged role of India in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, the North American nation’s Parliament observed a moment of silence on the first death anniversary of the Khalistani Sikh extremist.

The authorities in Vancouver in western Canada also allowed the Khalistani radicals to stage in front of the Consulate General of India a mock trial of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for the death of Nijjar, who was killed on June 18, 2023.

New Delhi, on the other hand, did its bit to subtly remind Ottawa of the danger of yielding space to the radicals and allowing extremism to grow, by organising on June 23 a memorial service for the victims of the bombing of Air India’s Kanishka aircraft by the Khalistanis on the same day in 1985.

“India stands at the forefront of countering the menace of terrorism and works closely with all nations to tackle this global threat,” New Delhi’s consular mission in Vancouver posted on X. “23 June 2024 marks the 39th Anniversary of the cowardly terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182 (Kanishka), in which 329 innocent victims, including 86 children, lost their lives in one of the most heinous terror-related air disasters in the history of civil aviation.”

It urged the Indian Diaspora in Canada to join the memorial service on June 23 “in a show of solidarity against terrorism”.

Just days after his brief interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sideline of the G7 summit at Apulia in Italy, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a TV channel that his nation and India had an ‘alignment’ on several ‘big issues’. He also said that he saw an ‘opportunity’ to engage with the Modi Government, which had just commenced its third term, including on economic ties and ‘around national security’.

A year after Nijjar was shot dead at the parking lot of a gurdwara in Surrey in the British Columbia province of Canada, the House of Commons – the lower chamber of the bicameral federal legislature of the North American nation – paid homage to him on Tuesday. Greg Fergus, Speaker of the House of Commons, led the lawmakers to rise and observe a moment of silence in his honour.

Nijjar was accused in several cases in India, including the ones involving murder, terrorist activities, and sedition. The Interpol had in 2014 and 2016 issued Red Corner Notices against him on India’s request for his alleged role in killing six people in a blast at a cinema in Ludhiana in Punjab in 2007. The US had also put him on the ‘No-Fly’ list in 2019. Canada had granted him citizenship in 2015. He was the president of a gurdwara at Surrey in the British Columbia province of Canada. He was shot dead in the parking lot of the gurdwara on June 18, 2023.

New Delhi’s relations with Ottawa nosedived after Trudeau on September 18 last year told the House of Commons that his government’s security agencies had been actively pursuing the ‘credible allegations’ about ‘a potential link’ between the agents of the Government of India and the killing of Nijjar in Canada. New Delhi dismissed Ottawa’s allegation, calling it ‘absurd’, ‘motivated’, and ‘unsubstantiated’.

Some Khalistani Sikh radicals on Tuesday assembled in front of the Consulate General of India in Vancouver. They held a mock trial for the killing of Nijjar, with an effigy of Modi dressed in prison stripes inside a makeshift cage and actors playing roles of a jury and a judge.

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Published 19 June 2024, 06:58 IST

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