Bombing report stirs anger in B.C.
There were renewed expressions of grief and anger in the Metro Vancouver Sikh community following the release of the Air India report Thursday.
But the target of the emotions varied depending on whom you talked to.
After former Supreme Court justice John C. Major commented on his report, Renee Saklikar went once more to the Air India Memorial wall in Stanley Park.
Saklikar's aunt and uncle — Zebuniska and Umar Jethwa — were among the 329 people on Air India Flight 182 who died when it was downed by a bomb in June 1985.
"The people who died on Air India were absolutely innocent," Saklikar said. "They didn't have an agenda."
Saklikar also questions whether it will change those in the Sikh community whose silence condones the bombing, she said.
"Is there an element that wants to deny, that wants to glorify? Of course. And do they need to be held to account? Yes."
Anger over 1984 killings
Major's report reiterates that Sikh militants carried out the Air India bombing following India's military assault in 1984 on Sikhism's holy shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Extremists in Metro Vancouver still celebrate Talwinder Parmar, named as the mastermind of the bomb plot. Parmar is hailed as a hero of the struggle to carve out of India an independent Sikh nation called Khalistan.
Some callers to a talk radio show on RED FM in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday insisted that the Air India bombing pales in comparison to India's killing of Sikhs after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984. Gandhi died when two of her Sikh bodyguards shot her.
Conspiracy theories about who was responsible for the Air India bombing also continue to circulate.
"They're still suspecting that the Indian government was involved," said RED FM host Harjinder Thind. "They're still blaming the Indian government for this bombing."
Leaders at Guru Nanak Sikh temple in Surrey welcomed Major's report and plan to host a prayer vigil for Air India victims.
"We're a different community than we were 25 years ago," said Sukhminder Virk. "And even 25 years ago, I don't think [extremists] represented anyone."
With files from the CBC's Duncan McCue