Vancouver Sun crime reporter Kim Bolan marked the 30th anniversary of the Air India bombing by citing how at least one Sikh gurdwara in Surrey still prominently displays the photo of the militant that a Canadian judge said was the leader of the terrorist attack, which killed 331 innocent people, mostly Canadians.
What would Canadians do if a mosque in the country proudly displayed the photo of Osama bin Laden or another Islamic terrorist, who are also considered “freedom fighters” in some circles?
What would we do if a Christian church in Canada displayed the photo of an Irish terrorist who killed innocent civilians?
What would Canadians do if a synagogue in the country displayed the photo of the Jewish religious fanatic who assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin?
We all know what would happen. The outcry from all Canadian sources would be deafening.
But for some reason most Canadians, including most non-Sikhs, are virtually silent about how Dasmesh Darbat Sikh temple, at 12885 – 85th Ave. in Surrey, continues to prominently feature the photo of the late terrorist leader, Talwinder Singh Parmar.
Why, except for a few voices, does Sikhism get this exemption from our usual condemnation of terrorists? It’s a curious thing. Kim Bolan’s piece suggests politicians are worried about holding on the votes of the province’s 180,000 Sikhs, the majority of whom live in Metro Vancouver.
Hope I get some time to ask some people who might have more of a sense of the answer. Perhaps readers can explain.
This is an excerpt from Kim Bolan’s article of June 23:
Thirty years after the Air India bombing, a large portrait of its mastermind hangs outside a Sikh temple in Surrey.
The Punjabi words on the picture of Talwinder Singh Parmar call him a martyr and a high priest.
There is no mention of the fact that a B.C. Supreme Court judge found Parmar to be the leader of the conspiracy to blow up two Air India planes on June 23, 1985.
Founder of the Babbar Khalsa terrorist group, Parmar was killed by Punjab police in 1992, before he could be tried for the devastating bomb plot that left 331 dead.
Among those was Surjit Singh Kalsi’s 21-year-old cousin Indira.
The Surrey senior is frustrated that all these years later, Parmar’s picture is allowed to hang in public view at Dasmesh Darbar temple.
Dashmesh Darbar Sikh temple in Surrey.
“I am not feeling good. I am thinking the Canadian government, they don’t want to deal with this,” Kalsi said. “What is in the minds of those people hanging the photo?”
After a lengthy trial that ended in 2005 with the acquittals of two suspects and a public inquiry that aired myriad problems with the investigation, Kalsi despairs at the lack of justice for his beloved cousin.
And he feels there is still support for the B.C. terrorists behind the bombing.
“They change the name of the groups, but their work is the same,” he said.
“Politicians don’t want to do anything because they are interested in votes only.”
Former B.C. MLA Dave Hayer shares Kalsi’s frustrations about the Parmar portrait.
“They should not be promoting any terrorist as a hero anywhere, regardless of the religion,” Hayer said.
MORE RELATED: Standing on guard for liberal democracy in Canada