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Indian mission marks Kanishka bombing anniversary in Ottawa

The Khalistani Sikh extremists had blown up Air India’s Kanishka aircraft when it had been flying from Montreal to London on June 23, 1985. All the 307 passengers, including 86 children, and 22 members of the crew onboard had been killed as the aircraft had disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean.
Last Updated : 23 June 2024, 22:35 IST

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New Delhi: Human lives are much more important than the transitory political interests, New Delhi’s envoy to Ottawa, Sanjay Kumar Verma, said, paying homage to the victims of the bombing of Air India’s aircraft ‘Kanishka’ in 1985 and subtly reminding Canada of the danger of yielding space to extremists seeking to carve out a Khalistan from India.

“No government in the world should overlook the threat of terrorism emanating from its territories for political gains,” Verma said amid continuing tension between New Delhi and Ottawa over the lack of initiative on the part of the government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the activities of the anti-India Khalistani Sikh extremists in Canada.

The Khalistani Sikh extremists had blown up Air India’s Kanishka aircraft when it had been flying from Montreal to London on June 23, 1985. All the 307 passengers, including 86 children, and 22 members of the crew onboard had been killed as the aircraft had disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean.

New Delhi used the memorial ceremony held on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the bombing of the aircraft to send out a message to Justin Trudeau’s government in Ottawa. India has been alleging that the Khalistani Sikh extremists had been given much political space in Canada.

The House of Commons – the lower chamber of the bicameral federal legislature of Canada – recently paid homage to Khalistani Sikh extremist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been killed in June 2023 in front of a gurdwara at Surrey in the British Columbia province of the North American nation.

“All terrorist activities should be met with exemplary legal and social actions before they start harming the larger humanity,” Verma said on Sunday. “(The) Governments, security agencies, and international organizations must work in concert to dismantle terrorist networks, disrupt their financing, and counter their twisted ideologies.”

Nijjar had been 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 had been heading the gurdwara at Surrey in the British Columbia province of Canada. He had been 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 had 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 had dismissed Ottawa’s allegation, calling it ‘absurd’, ‘motivated’, and ‘unsubstantiated’.

Some Khalistani Sikh radicals on June 18 assembled in front of the Consulate General of India in Vancouver on the occasion of the first death anniversary of Nijjar. 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.

New Delhi conveyed its displeasure to Ottawa over the silence observed in the parliament of Canada as well as over the permission granted for holding the mock trial of the prime minister of India.

“We naturally oppose any moves giving political space to extremism and advocacy of violence,” Randhir Jaiswal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi on Friday.

Family members and friends of the victims, officials of the Government of Canada including the Assistant RCMP Commissioner, ambassador of Ireland to Canada, and more than 150 members of the Indo-Canadian community attended the solemn occasion to pay homage to the victims of the bombing on Air India’s aircraft Kanishka.

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Published 23 June 2024, 22:35 IST

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