Air India flight bombing anniversary: ‘No govt should overlook threat of terrorism emanating from its territory for political gains’

Toronto: In a pointed message to Ottawa on the 39th anniversary of the bombing of Air India flight 182 by Khalistani terrorists, India has said no government should overlook the threat emanating from its territory for “political gains”.

India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma with family members of the victims of the bombing of the Kanishka at the memorial in the Canadian capital on Sunday. (Credit: High Commission of India, Ottawa)

The anniversary of the bombing of the aircraft, the Kanishka, which claimed 329 lives on June 23, 1985, was also marked with barricades and police presence at the memorial sites, for the first time, as pro-Khalistan elements staged rallies at the venues even as family members of the victims were mourning their loss.

Addressing the gathering at the memorial in Ottawa, India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma said, “No government in the world should overlook the threat of terrorism emanating from its territories for political gains. Human lives are much more important than the transitory political interests.”

“We still await for full and desired justice to the families of the victims of the bombing,” he said, while describing the bombing as a “heinously planned cowardly attack carried out by individuals with a twisted ideology”.

Family members of the victims were joined by about 150 members of the Indo-Canadian community and others at the memorial at Queen’s Park in Toronto. Across barricades and amid a visible police presence, separatist elements “prayed” for the victims even as they brandished Khalistani flags. The group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had called for the rallies.

Indo-Canadian community members confronted them with chants of “Death to Khalistan”.

Secessionists were also present in Ottawa and Vancouver.

In a message, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “This remains the deadliest terrorist attack in Canadian history. It reminds us of the senseless violence that terrorism perpetuates and of our shared responsibility to unequivocally condemn terrorism.” However, he did not mention the cause of the worst-ever terror attack, the Khalistan movement.

Leader of the opposition Conservatives Pierre Poilievre, in a message, stressed upon his party’s “commitment to combating terrorism to prevent such unimaginable events from happening again”.

The sombre observation this year came as the separatist movement is gaining ground in Canada, reminiscent of the 1980s, following the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18 last year. Described in Canadian media as “activists”, the adherents of the movement that resulted in the bombing have been emboldened after Trudeau’s statement in the House of Commons on September 18, 2023, that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and Nijjar’s killing.

Nijjar, considered a terrorist in India, never faced any charges in Canada, but was an overt supporter of Khalistan, and his death was marked with a minute of silence in the House of Commons on the anniversary of his murder.

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