OPINION: Canada is a state-sponsor of extremism: Let’s make no bones about it


#Canada, #Justintrudeau, #Khalistan

IBNS-CMEDIA: Canada continues to rock the boat of bilateral relations with India by persisting with its support to Khalistani extremism and terrorism.

The latest illustration of this official backing came when Canada’s House of Commons recently observed a “moment of silence” to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an individual synonymous with the violent and extremist Khalistan movement.

This development took place just at the time there was a large protest in front of India’s Consulate in Vancouver, where disturbing imagery of the mastermind behind the 1985 Air India Flight 182 bombing, Canada’s deadliest terrorist attack, was prominently displayed.

These developments raise serious questions about Canada’s stance on extremist movements within its borders.

India should consider breaking diplomatic relations with Canada for being a state sponsor of terrorism, just as India did with Pakistan.

 In fact, the current situation raises one very important question that needs answering. Is Canada using Khalistani extremism as a tool to destabilise India? The attitude of the Trudeau government appears to indicate that this is indeed the case.

Far more serious from an Indian security perspective was the verdict of the so-called “citizens’ court” organized by Khalistan supporters which found Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi guilty in absentia.

The subsequent burning of Modi’s effigy and the Indian flag, all under the watchful eyes of the Canadian police, paint a troubling picture of Canada’s permissiveness towards such extremist actions. Canada, under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, has taken a troubling stance in dealing with terrorism, in particular, Khalistan extremism.

The latest evidence of this came on 18 June 2024, when the Canadian Parliament observed a “moment of silence” to mark the first anniversary of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s death. This act highlighted the disturbing evolution of Canadian policy towards Khalistani terrorism. India’s response to Canada’s recent actions has been swift and unambiguous.

The Indian government has systematically reduced political and economic ties with Ottawa. When the Canadian Parliament chose to honour Nijjar, the Indian Embassy in Vancouver announced a memorial service to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Kanishka bombing, highlighting the contrast between honouring a terrorist and remembering the victims of terrorism.

The relationship between Canada and Khalistani extremism reads like an Orwellian script and under Trudeau’s leadership, the link has become overt and operational. This stark reality has been brewing for decades, tracing its roots back to the 1980s when Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, was in power. The parallels between the past and present are stark. Just as Parmar operated with impunity despite Indian pleas for his extradition. Nijjar was similarly given free rein in Canada until his death. This persistent failure to confront and curb Khalistani extremism has only emboldened the movement.

There is a history to the Canadian indifference or tacit sympathy to the Khalistani threat. In the 1980s this had catastrophic consequences. Talwinder Singh Parmar, a known Khalistani terrorist, was on record as early as 1982 predicting that “Indian planes will fall from the sky.” This ominous warning materialized with the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182, known as the Kanishka bombing, which resulted in the deaths of 329 people, including 268 Canadian citizens. The Khalistan movement is inexorably linked to the 1985 Air India bombing, yet studies reveal that 90% of Canadians are unaware of the perpetrators. Despite repeated warnings and clear evidence of Parmar’s violent intentions, Canadian authorities failed to act decisively. Ironically, a Canadian inquiry commission identified Talwinder Singh Parmar, a British Columbia man linked to the Khalistan movement, as the mastermind behind the attack.

The Kanishka bombing, was the deadliest act of terrorism in aviation history till 9/11. Yet, the lack of urgency and seriousness in addressing the tragedy, even today, leads many to question how the Canadian government is so indifferent when the victims were majorly Canadian. The tragedy of the Kanishka bombing is a poignant reminder of this disconnect; many of the victims were also Sikhs. Glorifying those responsible for such a heinous act not only dishonours the memory of the victims but also misrepresents the true sentiments of Sikhs globally, who are known to be a beacon of selflessness and service.

Bob Rai, a former Sikh from British Columbia, recently described Nijjar as “just a gangster eliminated by other gangsters.” Despite this characterization, Canadian Khalistan sympathizers have gone so far as to implicate the Indian government in his murder. This accusation was sensationally echoed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, fuelling a fire that many believe is unlikely to go away. Trudeau has lately been echoing the extremist sentiments of a handful of extremists, who claim to be the representatives of the Sikh community. Bob Rai’s condemnation of the Khalistan movement is stark. He implores Sikhs to disentangle themselves from these criminal organizations masquerading as religious or charitable entities. Rai’s warnings are not without basis.

The Khalistani extremist movement found fertile ground in Canada during Pierre Trudeau’s tenure, with the Canadian government turning a blind eye to India’s concerns about the threat of terrorism emanating from Canadian soil. Bill Warden, Canada’s High Commissioner to India in the early 1980s, notes in his memoirs that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had explicitly accused Sikh organizations in Canada of financing violence against India.

These accusations were backed by journalist-author Terry Milewski who in his book “Blood for Blood: Fifty Years of the Global Khalistan Project,” highlighted that Canadian taxpayers’ money was indirectly funding violence against India. The situation extends beyond Canada’s borders. In California, thousands of Khalistan separatists recently gathered for a non-binding referendum to push their agenda of carving out a separate nation from India.

Canada’s endorsement of such movements, whether through inaction or symbolic gestures like the moment of silence for Nijjar, sends a troubling message. It suggests a willingness to overlook the violent history and the ongoing criminal activities associated with these groups. This stance not only undermines the global fight against terrorism but also jeopardizes Canada’s own security and societal harmony. Canada’s leniency towards the Khalistan movement is not just a domestic issue but a global concern.

However, there is little understanding in the West about Canada’s wilfull support to Sikh extremism and its implications for India’s security.

India must constantly reinforce the nature and extent of Canada’s support to Sikh extremism, only then will the global security architecture realise the challenge that India is facing.

If at the end of the day, India finds it necessary, it should exercise the option of cutting diplomatic relations with Canada on the grounds of national security.

(Image and text courtesy: Khasalvox.com.)