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Canadian Parliament pays tribute to Nijjar, Indian consulate to honor Kanishka victims

Indian consulate in Vancouver announced a memorial next week to mark the anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182

Canadian Parliament pays tribute to Nijjar, Indian consulate to honor Kanishka victims
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The Canadian Parliament on Tuesday paid tribute to pro-Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was allegedly assassinated on 18 June 2023, on his first death anniversary. 

“Following discussions among representatives of all parties in the House, I understand there is agreement to observe a moment of silence commemorating Hardeep Singh Nijjar, assassinated in Surrey, British Columbia, one year ago today,” Speaker Greg Fergus stood up to announce in the House of Commons.

The members of the Parliament then stood up to observe a moment of silence in a tribute to Nijjar, as shown in a video posted by news agency IANS, taken from the Parliament’s website.

The consulate in Vancouver, meanwhile, has announced a memorial next week commemorating the anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182, which was allegedly attacked by Khalistani separatists in 1985.

Nijjar, 45, a Sikh activist listed by India as a terrorist, was killed outside Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. Four Indian nationals have been arrested by Canadian authorities in connection with the killing of Nijjar so far. 

Diplomatic tensions between New Delhi and Ottawa escalated when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in September last year alleged “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar.

In retaliation, India suspended visa services for Canadian citizens on 21 September. The ministry of external affairs also asked 41 Canadian diplomats in India to leave the country, citing ‘parity’ as the reason. 

Kanishka Bombing

Air India Flight 182, en route from Montreal to Bombay, exploded midair on 23 June 1985 after allegedly being attacked by Khalistani separatists. The aircraft—Emperor Kanishka—was carrying 329 people, including 268 Canadians and 24 Indians, all of whom died in the incident.

The explosion was caused by a bomb hidden in a suitcase checked in during a stopover in Vancouver. 

Khalistani separatist group Babbar Khalsa was alleged to be behind the bombing. Canadian authorities investigated the case and questioned several people. However, only one person, Inderjit Singh Reyat, was convicted in connection with the incident. 

The case has been a major reason for strain in India-Canada ties over the years as New Delhi has been pushing for accountability by Canadian authorities. 

With Nijjar’s case, the New Delhi-Ottawa relationship has taken a further hit since last year. The tribute paid to the Khalistani activist is further expected to damage the ties. 

“India stands at the forefront of countering the menace of terrorism and works closely with all nations to tackle this global threat,” the Indian consulate in Vancouver said on X. 

“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,” it said. 

“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,” the consulate added. 

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