Vancouver: The government of India is launching a diplomatic protest over a parade in Surrey this month that included a float with alleged terrorist leader Talwinder Singh Parmar portrayed as a Sikh martyr. "We are very much concerned that this happened," said Zile Singh, India's deputy consul-general. "Diplomats from the High Commission office in Ottawa intend to raise the matter with the Canadian officials," he added. "This is not acceptable to us. We intend to convey that it is not acceptable, so the [Canadian] government understands. This should not happen again."
Parmar, a militant Khalistani advocate, has been identified in a B.C. court case as the mastermind behind a mid-air bomb explosion aboard an Air-India flight in 1985, en route from Canada to London, England. Born in Punjab and later made a Canadian citizen, he was killed by police during an encounter in India in 1992. There were 329 people killed in the Air-India bombing, which remains one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in aviation history. Singh said the portrayal of Parmar as a martyr was "very objectionable."
Indian officials were also concerned that some people involved in the parade showed their support for groups considered terrorist organizations and banned in Canada, the International Sikh Youth Federation and Babbar Khalsa. The Sikh community in Greater Vancouver holds two competing parades to mark the beginning of the harvest season in Punjab. Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar of Surrey held its annual Vaisakhi parade this year on April 7. The Vaisakhi Parade organized by Vancouver's Khalsa Diwan Society was held on Aoril 14.
The parade in Surrey attracted thousands of people including prominent B.C. and federal politicians. The parade had a float that included Parmar among the portraits of Sikh martyrs and some organizers wore work jackets with the word "Khalistan," the name proposed for an independent state for the Sikhs carved out of India.