Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Most Balanced Story So Far on the Surrey Nagar Kirtan...

I've been following the news regarding the Nagar Kirtan in Surrey. For the most part, the news have been parroting the line that T.S. Parmar is a co-conspirator in a terrorist act and have at various times labeled a children's martial arts (gatka?) team as either wearing ISYF vests or their martial arts vests. The bias has been palpable and the headlines inflammatory.

At least in this news filing the reporter attempts to get two sides to the story. The reporter also acknowledges what Amnesty Int'l itself has documented in terms of state terrorism against Sikhs. If India really is concerned about Sikhs and secessionism, then why not acknowledge the fact that its security forces, police, judiciary, and political organizations are all culpable in the murder of innocent civilians in the past and even today?

Numerous human rights organizations were denied access to Punjab in the past and even today to document the atrocities and violence against Sikhs. If India really wants peace then why doesn't it at least acknowledge the truth and jail those abusers of human rights and the Indian law? That would go a long way in showing the sincerity of India towards Sikhs. Canadian based Sikhs have easy access to both sides of the story. Trying to silence Sikhs in Canada only makes the Indian government look bad and shows its fragility. If India was truly confident in its position it wouldn't make a mountain out of one parade and display such histrionics.

The article is in the G n' M today. Here's an excerpt...
As a Canadian Sikh, he considers those who die fighting terrorism in Afghanistan to be not much different than historic figures within his religion who fought injustices, and more recently Talwinder Singh Parmar, who was part of a violent campaign in the 1980s for an independent Sikh state that would have been called Khalistan.

"For us, they [Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan] are martyrs," Mr. Dulai said during a recent interview about a parade in Surrey that included a tribute to Mr. Parmar.

"Why did we go to Afghanistan?" he said. "It is because of state oppression. The Taliban were going off, killing their own citizens. Other than that, there was no need for us to be there."

In a similar fashion, many in the Sikh community consider those who were killed in India fighting state terrorism to be martyrs. They confronted the government after its forces killed people at the Golden Temple in 1984, Mr. Dulai said. They went to protect their families and villages from state terrorism, he added.

"I know it is hard to believe for an outsider, but ... basically, whoever stood up against state oppression [in India] was killed," Mr. Dulai said.

Mr. Dulai was one of the organizers of the community's Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, an annual event to celebrate the Punjabi new year and the beginning of the harvest in Punjab. The parade, organized by the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar in Surrey, included two floats paying tribute to those regarded by the Sikh temple as martyrs. Photographs of Talwinder Singh Parmar and Canadian Sikhs from Toronto, Calgary and Abbotsford were among the 80 to 90 tributes on the two floats.

The Indian consulate in Vancouver has expressed concern about Canadian politicians who participated in the event, saying they were showing support for banned terrorist groups.

The RCMP continues to regard Mr. Parmar as one of the conspirators responsible for the death of 331 people, mostly Canadians, in the Air-India disaster on June 23, 1985.

"[Mr. Parmar] was very central and an integral part of the plan," RCMP Staff Sergeant John Ward said yesterday in an interview.

Evidence in a court case in 2005 alleged that Mr. Parmar was the mastermind behind the disaster, motivated by revenge against the Indian government and support for Khalistan.

Mr. Parmar, who was born in 1944, came to Canada in 1970. He embraced fundamental Sikhism in 1977 and became a self-appointed leader of a group in a violent political and religious campaign for a Sikh homeland in 1979.

Mr. Parmar was accused of killing two policemen in November, 1981, during a visit to his home village of Panchta in the province of Punjab but he left the country before he was detained. He was arrested in 1983 in West Germany on an international warrant. German authorities subsequently let him go for lack of evidence. He had been held in custody for almost a year.

Authorities considered Mr. Parmar as a prime suspect in the Air-India bombing within moments of the explosion. Canada's spy agency had began watching him in early 1985 at the behest of the FBI to track Sikh radicals before a visit by Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to the United States. The spy agency had him under surveillance as he tested a homemade bomb with others in the forest three weeks before the Air-India disaster and as he met other alleged co-conspirators in the days before the disaster.

The RCMP detained Mr. Parmar on Nov. 6, 1985. But he was once again released without being charged. He was arrested a third time, in June, 1986, and charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in India. He was subsequently acquitted.

Mr. Parmar fled Canada in 1988 after Inderjit Singh Reyat was arrested on charges related to the disaster. He was killed by police in India in 1992. Indian authorities cremated the body without taking fingerprints to confirm his identity and without notifying Mr. Parmar's family or the Canadian government. Despite the unusual circumstances of his death, the Canadian government never asked India for a full investigation. The Air-India disaster remains the deadliest terrorist episode in Canadian history.

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Sameer Bhagwat said...

Sikhs have not forgotten when Punjab was split in half in 1947. It is still split and should be made one. Pakistan can be separate, India can be separate, but why split Punjab in the process? 1984 attack solidified the reality of Khalistan and it was declared by the Sikh commnunity through "SArbat Khalsa" in 1986. Khalistan is a peaceful campaign for human rights. It is justified as Israel and Tibet and other oppressed nations struggle for autonomy. God bless the Sikhs and they will be successful to reach their goal. All should support the Khalsa as they will bring peace in this world and bring the light of God in all of our hearts.

Sameer Bhagwat said...

I am born and raised in India and I support Sikhs in India, Punjab, Pakistan, and anywhere else to have united Punjab (Punjab like it was before 1947). We have no right to put salt on their wounds by brushing off their tortures. They suffered, we didn't. They fought in our army, most of us didn't. They saved us from oppression many times. They deserve their own autonomy. With God grace they may be successful to get fair rights and self determination.

Anonymous said...

While Sikhs for the most part want a united Punjab, that may not be the wishes of Pakistani Muslims, and Indian Hindus. Sikhs would likely have been better off in a united Punjab, but we will now never know for sure.

Punjabi said...

There are also Punjabi Hindus and Muslims. A united Punjab would be in the interest of the whole world. If the Sikhs had more equal rights and were able to do seva and maintenance of their heritage sites and gurdwaras, they would be in a better position to branch out in to the world and do what they were sent to this world for - serving, uplifting, inspiring and enlightening all of humanity.