"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Hey India, Talwinder Singh Parmar wasn’t convicted either Featured

 

Gurpreet Singh

The ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government has come to the defence of a terror accused who is now sitting in the parliament of the world’s so called largest democracy.

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who was elected as a BJP lawmaker in the recent general election, had described the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi as patriot.

Nathuram Godse was a member of a group that wanted to establish a Hindu theocracy in post-independent India. Since Gandhi was opposed to the idea, he was murdered by Godse on January 30, 1948. As a result, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu supremacist group of which BJP is a part, was banned for some time. The current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an RSS man. It is not surprising that the BJP has many supporters who continue to glorify Godse and despise Gandhi. This is despite the fact that Modi claims to be an admirer of Gandhi, who remains an indisputable icon of India’s freedom movement.

Thakur, a fiery ascetic, faces criminal charges for the 2008 bomb blasts that left 10 people dead and close to 100 injured. The conspiracy was hatched by those who want to transform India into a Hindu state. The blasts were targeted at the minority Muslim community. Thakur was given bail on medical grounds, after which she fought and won the election. Notably, the trial isn’t over yet. Modi personally endorsed her candidacy, blaming the previous Congress government of implicating her in a “false case” to “malign Hindus”.

Following her remarks on Godse, there was an uproar in the parliament. The opposition was up in arms against the government for shielding a terror accused, to which the BJP government has responded by saying that she isn’t convicted.

Well, if Thakur isn’t convicted and deserves to be an MP, then what about others who were not given fair trials, and were killed illegally in the name of war on terror? Why these double standards on terrorism?

A case in point is Talwinder Singh Parmar, who was a suspect in the Air India bombing of June 23, 1985. Parmar was killed by the Indian Police in 1992. Flight 182 was bombed mid-air above the Irish Sea. The incident killed all 329 people aboard. The crime was blamed on Parmar and his militant organization that was fighting for a separate Sikh homeland. Parmar, who was a Canadian citizen, was arrested on unrelated charges, but released. While he still remained a suspect, he went back to India to pursue his struggle for a Sikh homeland.

The police claimed that he was killed in an exchange of fire, although ground realities suggested that he was killed using extra judicial means that were blatantly used against Sikh militants to suppress armed insurgency. So Parmar never got a fair trial, and yet the Indian agents in Canada continue to raise objections to commemorative prayers organized in his memory every year in local Sikh temples. They miss no opportunity to criticise Canadian politicians who visit the temples that glorify Parmar.  Sikh MPs are often forced to take a stand against Parmar to silence their pro-India critics and the Indian diplomats.

Considering that Modi and his government have been shamelessly backing people like Thakur, Canadian MPs need to ask, what moral right do they have to question their intentions? If Parmar was a terrorist, even if he was never convicted by the courts, why shouldn't Thakur be described as such? Also, Canadian politicians who respect Gandhi need to ask Modi to clarify his position on terrorism, especially in relation to his party’s ideological ties with Godse. It also raises questions about the integrity of the Indian police and legal justice system. How come the state allowed its police to kill Sikh militants at will in the name of peace, but is not using similar methods to liquidate Hindu extremists who terrorise minorities with impunity? Haven’t they ruined the peace and harmony in India? This only suggests that India has actually become a majoritarian Hindu state that openly discriminates against minorities, and treats majoritarian extremists more leniently than extremists from minority communities. If this pattern is allowed to prevail, nothing can stop the revival of Sikh separatism and Balkanisation of India. 

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