India hits back after Canadian Parliament’s moment of silence for Nijjar | External Affairs Defence Security News

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India hits back after Canadian Parliament's moment of silence for Nijjar | External Affairs Defence Security News

After the Canadian Parliament observed a minute's silence on Tuesday to mark one year of the death anniversary of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Indian Consulate General in Vancouver announced a memorial service to remember the 329 victims of the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 Kanishka by Canadian Khalistani terrorists. This sent a clear message.

“India is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and is working closely with all nations to counter this global threat,” the Consulate General posted on X, adding, “June 23, 2024 marks the 39th anniversary of the cowardly terrorist attack on Air India Flight 182 (Kanishka), in which 329 innocent victims, including 86 children, lost their lives in one of the most heinous terrorist air disasters in the history of civil aviation.”

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“A memorial service is planned at the Air India Memorial in the Ceperley Playground area of ​​Stanley Park at 6:30 p.m. on June 23, 2024. The Consulate General of India in Vancouver encourages members of the Indian diaspora to attend the event to show their solidarity against terrorism,” the Consulate General added.

What prompted India’s reaction towards Canada?

The Indian Consul General's post came after the Canadian Parliament observed a minute's silence in memory of Nijjar.

A video posted by news agency IANS on X shows members of the Canadian Parliament observing a minute's silence in the House of Commons. Parliament Speaker Greg Fergus begins the commemoration by saying: “After discussions between representatives of all parties in the House of Commons, I understand that there is an agreement to observe a minute's silence in memory of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was murdered one year ago today in Surrey, British Columbia.”

Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?

Nijjar, a 45-year-old Canadian citizen, was shot and killed on June 18, 2023, as he left the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia.

Nijjar was designated a terrorist by India’s National Investigation Agency in 2020 and his name also appeared on a list of 40 other “designated terrorists” published by the Indian government.

India-Canada relations came under severe strain in September after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made allegations of “potential” involvement of Indian agents in Nijjar's killing. The incident is currently being investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

India has dismissed Trudeau's allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”. The presence of Khalistani separatist groups in Canada has long been a concern for India.

While Canada has arrested four Indian citizens in connection with the Nijjar case, India insists that there has been no official or diplomatic communication from Canada regarding his killing or the arrests.

What was the 1985 Kanishka aircraft bombing?

On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 (Kanishka), en route from Canada to India via London, exploded in mid-air when a bomb planted by Canadian Khalistani terrorists exploded, killing all 329 people on board.

The Kanishka bombing is one of the deadliest aviation terrorist attacks. Among the passengers killed in the incident were 268 Canadian, 27 British and 24 Indian nationals.

Another bomb that exploded at Tokyo's Narita Airport, killing two Japanese baggage handlers, was also linked to the attack on Flight 182. This separate bomb was intended to blow up another Air India flight to Bangkok, but it exploded prematurely.

The Canadian RCMP arrested Babbar Khalsa leader Talwinder Singh Parmar in connection with the bombing. Although India unsuccessfully attempted to extradite Parmar from Canada in the early 1980s, the case against him failed and he was released. In 1992, Parmar was killed by police in India.

According to the BBC, investigators working on the case believe that Parmar was the mastermind of the bomb attack on Kanishka.

In 2000, police also arrested Vancouver businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik and British Columbia factory worker Ajaib Singh Bagri in connection with the case.

However, after a trial lasting almost two years, both men were acquitted of all charges in 2005.

According to a BBC report at the time, the 2005 verdict caused great dismay; the relatives of the Kanishka bombing victims sobbed in the courtroom.

What are the latest developments in India-Canada relations?

The Canadian Parliament remained silent on Nijjar, just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau met during the G7 summit in Italy.

The Canadian prime minister said at the time that there was “agreement” with India on several “big issues,” adding that he saw an “opportunity” to engage with the new government.

Prime Minister Modi, for his part, posted a picture on social media of himself shaking hands with Trudeau with the one-line caption: “Met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 summit.”