Saturday, October 07, 2017

Gurpreet Singh: Stop blaming Jagmeet Singh for Air India bombings

The troubles for the newly elected federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh aren’t over yet. His critics have now found a new weapon to beat him with. This time he has come under attack for not denouncing the alleged mastermind in the Air India bombings. 

The late Talwinder Singh Parmar was the leader of the banned Sikh extremist group Babbar Khalsa that is blamed for the June 23, 1985, Air India bombings that left 331 people dead. The incident followed ugly political events in India in 1984.

In June of that year, the Indian government ordered a military invasion of the Golden Temple Complex, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs in Amritsar in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab. "Operation Blue Star" was intended to flush out militants who had stockpiled weapons inside the place of worship.

The Indian army operation resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and damage to many important buildings inside the complex. The entire exercise was avoidable and alienated the Sikh community from the Indian mainstream.

There were angry protests in Vancouver. These developments culminated in the assassination of then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Following her murder, her Congress party organized an anti-Sikh pogrom across the country. Thousands of Sikhs were slaughtered and Sikh women were gang raped as police remained mute spectators. 

A year later Air India Flight 182 was blown up above the Irish Sea, killing all 329 people aboard. Around the same time a blast at the Narita Airport in Tokyo left two baggage handlers dead. The investigators later found that the bombs used in the crime had originated from Vancouver International Airport. Police believed that these bombings were planned and executed by Babbar Khalsa to avenge the repression of Sikhs in India.

Babbar Khalsa wanted to create Khalistan—a separate Sikh homeland in Punjab. Parmar was a potential suspect in the conspiracy but was never convicted. A resident of Burnaby, he returned to India to continue his struggle for Khalistan when he died at the hands of Indian police in 1992 under mysterious circumstances.

It's believed that he was captured and tortured before being killed in a staged shootout.
06/10/17 Gurpreet Singh/Straight

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