Remember When? … #airindiabombing

Remember When is a new series of posts where we take a look back at some of the funny, bizarre and downright disturbing incidents in Canada’s past.

Since cakers like to judge everyone else (particularly Americans) and point out their historic wrong-doings, it’s time to take a mirror to these incompetent hypocrites. Enjoy!


Loss of Faith: How The Air India Bombers Got Away With Murder

From Amazon:

“On June 23, 1985, Canada found itself on the international terrorism map when two bombs built in B.C. detonated within an hour of each other on opposite sides of the world, killing 329 men, women, and children.

Canadian Sikh separatists, upset at the Indian government for attacking their religion’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, were immediately suspected by the RCMP of perpetrating the worst act of aviation terrorism before Sept. 11, 2001. But while police agencies scrambled to infiltrate a close-knit immigrant community and collect evidence against the suspects, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was destroying taped telephone calls between the same people the RCMP was investigating.

For years those at the centre of the terrorist plot tried to protect their dark secret. Two Sikh newspaper publishers who overheard an alleged confession by one of the bombers were assassinated. Other potential witnesses were threatened and intimidated. Journalists who wrote about the suspects were targeted by death threats and harassment. The suspects founded charities and participated in political parties, attending fundraising dinners for premiers and prime ministers. And the families of the victims fought to be recognized for their unimaginable loss as the result of an act of terrorism plotted in Canada. When charges were finally laid against three Sikh separatists, the families believed justice was almost theirs. But their faith was shaken when one suspect pleaded guilty to manslaughter and got a five-year sentence for more than three hundred deaths.

The Air-India trial judge spoke in his ruling of the “the senseless horror” of the bombings. He called the plot “a diabolical act of terrorism” with “roots in fanaticism at its basest and most inhumane level.” He then acquitted Sikh leaders Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri on all charges, leaving the victims’ families reeling and the biggest case in Canadian history officially unsolved.

Kim Bolan is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered the Air-India bombing case since the day Flight 182 went down off the coast of Ireland. Her work on the Air-India story has taken her to Punjab five times over the last twenty years where she met with militant Sikh separatist leaders and victims of the violence. She also followed Air-India mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar to Pakistan before his 1992 slaying and chased down other suspects in England and across Canada. But she faced the most danger at home in Vancouver where the stories she uncovered about the Air-India case led to a series of death threats against her.”


Terrorists? Bombings? Destroying evidence and tapes? Assassinations? Murderers rubbing shoulders with politicians? A five year sentence for killing hundreds of people? Wow, this is India – right? Nope this is good ol’ British Columbia, Canada!

(Welcome to B.C. … also known as Bring Cash or Be Corrupt.)


So why don’t Canadians ever discuss the Air India Bombing? Why do they know so little about it? Why doesn’t anyone care? Questions asked by a piece in The Tyee:

“All 329 people on board Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, 33 years ago today, were killed, including 280 citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

They were lost to a bomb that exploded while their plane was in Irish airspace, en route from Canada to India. The bomb had been planted in Canada in an act of terror planned by extremists allegedly advocating for a separate Sikh state in the Punjab.

It was Canada’s worst mass murder, yet it is barely remembered in this country.

Today, Canadians commonly regard the bombing as an Indian tragedy, or at most an Indo-Canadian tragedy. They typically dwell on the terrorism, but rarely on the grief and hardship of fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children, friends and neighbours left behind.

Why hasn’t this tragedy claimed a prominent place in Canadian history and public memory? Some now call it Canada’s 9/11, but until the attack in New York City some 16 years later, they didn’t call it much at all.

The Canadian families of the dead wonder year after year why no one but them seems to care, or why their grief is seen as less worthy than that of others who are more openly taken into the nation’s heart.

The answer is simple: Canada hides from the truth. No doubt racism is involved (they’re less “Canadian” being brown or immigrants) but much more than that – Canada never acknowledges its corruption, rot, or hypocrisy. To do so would involve honesty and then efforts to change … Canadians prefer to ignore, whitewash or deny. Ignoring facts is easy, action is difficult.


The controversy would rear its ugly head again with the election of Jagmeet Singh as NDP leader. He was asked questions about one of the suspects (considered a leader in the conspiracy but never found guilty due to insufficient evidence) and in typical Canadian style there were no straight answers, whining about “racism” and absolutely nothing constructive accomplished or discovered.

From The Georgia Straight:

“Not long after Jagmeet Singh was elected NDP leader, he sat down for an interview with the CBC’s Terry Milewski in early October….

Given Milewski’s history covering this story, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that he asked the new NDP leader if he would denounce Parmar—who’s been glorified as a Sikh martyr at the Dasmesh Darbar gurdwara in Surrey.

Singh, a baptized Sikh who wears a turban, replied that “we need to make sure that the investigation results in a conviction of someone who is actually responsible”.

And for a few days, there was a media and social-media firestorm over Milewski’s question, Singh’s answer, and the CBC journalist’s subsequent tweet…

Critics of Milewski said he would never ask this question of a white political leader. Singh himself called the question “offensive”, saying any Canadian would denounce anyone held responsible for terrorism.

Milewski’s defenders, on the other hand, said it was a legitimate question to ask of a man who wanted to become prime minister…


… Then there’s Jagmeet Singh, a trained criminal defence lawyer who says he would like to see convictions before commenting on who’s responsible. And as long as Singh maintains this position, he can expect to be roasted periodically by those who utterly reject that proposition and insist that it’s been proven that Parmar was the mastermind.

The Air India bombing occurred more than 30 years ago and at this stage, it appears unlikely that anyone else will be charged.

But it still has the potential to play a role in the 2019 federal election. This is particularly true if Singh’s point of view comes under criticism from his Liberal and Conservative opponents, senior Canadian journalists, former B.C. premier Dosanjh, and relatives of deceased passengers.

The Air India bombing still matters for a multitude of reasons, especially for the painful losses endured by so many Canadian families. Many of them were appalled by Josephson’s court ruling in the case involving Malik and Bagri and these relatives likely won’t stay silent about a potential prime minister who refuses to condemn Parmar.”


Singh changed his tune after the backlash, from the CBC:

After having expressed some doubts, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said today he accepts the Air India inquiry’s conclusion that Talwinder Singh Parmar was the mastermind behind the deadly mid-air bombing that killed hundreds of Canadians — and he thinks it’s inappropriate for some Sikhs to glorify Parmar by displaying his photo.

Despite his more recent statement, there will now always be some who wonder if he harbors terrorist sympathies since he couldn’t simply spit this out at the beginning. Telling sign or rookie mistake?


Post Script:

It’s got everything one would expect: a belief that terrorism couldn’t happen in ‘magical Canada’, and incompetence by CSIS and the RCMP. (In fairness to CSIS it was a new organization, nonetheless it’s doubtful results would have been different otherwise.)

As you reach the middle of the book it gets to be a slog reading about these odious thugs terrorizing the community, murdering people, and scamming the government out of millions of dollars. Towards the end it’s also difficult to read about them getting away with mass murder.

This has all the hallmarks of a classic Canadian story: racism, incompetence, corruption, and of course no change or improvement after thirty years. Did anyone expect anything less?

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