• Thursday, July 25, 2024


India’s Kanishka air tragedy response after Canada MPs honour Nijjar on first death anniversary

The Indian consulate general said a memorial service was organised in honour of the victims of the Air India flight that was bombed mid air in 1985, a day after Canadian MPs observed silence for the Sikh separatist leader on his first death anniversary.

Demonstrators gather in support of Khalistan, an advocated independent Sikh homeland, during a Sikh rally outside the Consulate General of India, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on September 25, 2023, following the murder of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. (Photo by COLE BURSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

A DAY after the Canadian parliament commemorated slain Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on his first death anniversary with silence, India responded with its consulate general in Vancouver announcing a memorial service to pay tributes to the victims of the Khalistani bombing of Air India Kanishka flight in June 1985.

Three-hundred and twenty nine people, including 86 children, were killed in the attack on the plane that was heading from Montreal to London, at 31,000 feet above the ground. The deceased included 268 Canadian citizens as well.

“India stands at the forefront of countering the menace of terrorism and works closely with all nations to tackle this global threat. 23 June 2024 marks the 39th Anniversary of the cowardly terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182 (Kanishka), in which 329 innocent victims, including 86 children, lost their lives in one of the most heinous terror-related air disasters in the history of civil aviation,” the consulate general posted on X.

Read: Several Khalistan supporters at hearing on 3 Indians accused of Nijjar murder

“A Memorial Service is scheduled at 1830 hrs on June 23, 2024 at the Air India Memorial at Stanley Park’s Ceperley Playground area. @cgivancouver encourages members of the Indian Diaspora to join the event in a show of solidarity against terrorism. @HCI_Ottawa,” it added.

Read: This is what India’s Jaishankar said after Canada made 4th arrest in Nijjar case

The consulate general’s post on Wednesday (19) came on the heels of the Canadian parliament remembering Nijjar, who was gunned down by unidentified assassins outside a gurdwara in Surrey in British Columbia on June 18 last year. The incident soon snowballed into a major diplomatic row after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau alleged in September 2023 that Indian agents could be involved in the murder. New Delhi refuted the allegations, calling them “motivated”.

Bilateral ties between the two democracies have nosedived since then. Talks over a free-trade agreement between them were also affected.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is investigating the murder and four Indian nationals have also been arrested in connection with the incident.

A video released by news agency Indo-Asian News Service showed members of the Canadian parliament observing silence in the House of Commons.

Speaker Greg Fergus begins the memorial by saying, “Following discussions among representatives of all parties in the House, I understand there is an agreement to observe a moment of silence in memory of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, assassinated in Surrey, British Columbia, one year ago today.”

The development also took place just days after Trudeau met Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy and the former said there is an “alignment” on several “big issues” with New Delhi and he sees an “opportunity” to engage with the new government.

Modi took oath as the prime minister for the third successive term on June 9.

He posted an image on social media of him shaking hands with Trudeau and said: “met Canadian PM Justin Trudeau at the G7 Summit”.

This marked the first meeting between the two leaders after diplomatic ties between their respective countries were strained in the aftermath of Nijjar’s death.

Trudeau visited India for the G20 summit in September last year where his Indian counterpart reportedly talked tough over the growing ‘anti-India activities’ on Canadian soil in recent times.

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