Thursday, July 18, 2024

Blurred vision on Khalistan

Must read

External affairs minister S Jaishankar has paid tribute to the victims of the terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182 on June 23, 1985, on the 39th anniversary of the carnage, describing it as one of the worst acts of terrorism in history. The Indian high commission in Ottawa held a memorial for the victims, a majority of them Canadians of Indian origin, and noted that the perpetrators and co-conspirators of the dastardly attack remain free. This came days after the Canadian Parliament observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India had declared a terrorist before he was killed by gunmen last year. These events, almost running on parallel tracks, are symptomatic of the marked slide in relations between New Delhi and Ottawa.

**EDS: IMAGE VIA @HCI_Ottawa** Ottawa: Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Verma while paying homage to the victims of Air India flight 182 Kanishka in Ottawa, Monday, June 24, 2024, on the 39th anniversary of the terrorist bombing in which 329 innocent people including 86 children, lost their lives. (PTI Photo) (PTI06_24_2024_000185B) (PTI)

It would be pertinent to point out that the bombing of Air India flight 182 was the worst aviation-related act of terrorism until the 9/11 attacks in the US, and is acknowledged by Canadian authorities as the worst terrorist attack in that country’s history. It killed all 329 people on the airliner, including 268 Canadian citizens, and 24 Indians. Canada’s investigation of the bombing is now best remembered for the way investigators failed to follow up on important leads and destroyed key evidence. In more contemporary times, Canada’s reluctance to address the presence of a domestic constituency that celebrates terrorist acts against India in the name of Khalistan is astonishing, considering the ground the world has covered on global terrorism since 9/11. The arguments for national sovereignty and freedom of speech raised by the Justin Trudeau government do not hold up against groups that routinely target India and advocate the creation of a separate theocratic state carved out of India – a demand with almost no resonance among Sikhs in India.

Trudeau’s message that Canada stands against hate, intolerance and division rings hollow since his government refuses to acknowledge that allowing the discredited idea of Khalistan to flourish has potentially devastating consequences Worse, this has let relations between the two democracies slide, which now threatens to impact people-to-people contacts, as evident in the dramatic fall in the issuing of Canadian student visas to Indians. The onus is now on Canada to revive this important relationship and find ways to address the issue of violent extremism and separatism.

Latest article