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Canadian MP criticises parliament's tribute to Nijjar amid extremism concerns

25 Jun 2024

Vancouver [Canada], June 25 (ANI): A Liberal member of Parliament has criticised the recent decision for MPs to stand in the House of Commons for a moment of silence marking the anniversary of the killing of Sikh separatist and India-designated terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, reports The Globe and Mail.

Chandra Arya, MP for Nepean, voiced discontent with his own government's stance. He referenced a Globe and Mail investigation revealing Canadian authorities' concerns about Nijjar's alleged ties to extremism.

In an interview with the newspaper on Monday, Arya remarked on the exclusivity of parliamentary honours, stating, "When Parliament decides to hold a moment of silence, it is very exclusive and limited to a few great Canadians who have immensely served Canadians for most of their lives. Nijjar is not one of these people." He criticised the elevation of Nijjar's status despite "credible allegations" linking his killing to a foreign government.

On June 18, MPs from all parties observed a moment of silence for Nijjar, who was fatally shot outside his gurdwara in Surrey, BC, a year earlier, an incident Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linked to "credible allegations" involving the Indian government, leading to strained diplomatic relations.

Arya, known for advocating stronger ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and opposing Khalistan separatist movements, expressed concern over Nijjar's background. He cited findings that Nijjar had entered Canada using a fake passport, promoted violence, and was associated with Sikh militants advocating for Khalistan in Punjab. The investigation also revealed Nijjar's presence on Canada's no-fly list and multiple instances of police questioning.

The MP highlighted worries that elements within the Khalistan movement were propagating conspiracy theories about the 1985 Air India bombing, which claimed 329 lives, mostly Canadians. Canadian inquiries attributed the bombing to Sikh extremists, including Talwinder Singh Parmar, identified as its mastermind.

Following the bombing, Parmar, based in British Columbia, fled and was later killed by Indian police in 1992. Two men initially charged were acquitted of first-degree murder. The RCMP maintains an open investigation into the case.

Recent disruptions by Khalistan supporters at Air India bombing memorials prompted condemnation from the families of the victims. Deepak Khandelwal, who lost his sisters in the bombing, criticised the Trudeau government's recognition of Nijjar, fearing it could embolden extremist elements.

Despite controversies, the NDP defended honouring Nijjar, emphasising the significance of a Canadian killed on Canadian soil, allegedly by a foreign government. The Conservative Party declined to comment, while Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland reaffirmed Canada's commitment to protecting Canadians' rights.

Mahesh Sharma, a professor at Concordia's School of Business, dismissed allegations implicating the Indian government in the Air India bombing as "totally, totally absurd," emphasising personal loss from the tragedy. (ANI)

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