MEMORIES and images of the horrendous bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, off the coast of Ireland in which 329 people died — and the Narita airport explosion in the luggage meant for another Air India plane in Japan on the same day in which two baggage handlers were killed — are frigtening and angering Canadians following an open threat to Air India flights by Sikhs for Justice general counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in a video last weekend.
They want to know what steps Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the RCMP are taking to deal with these threats. Many are reportedly planning not to travel by Air India.
In the video, Pannun repeatedly warns those intending to travel by Air India flights from November 19 onwards, saying that their lives could be in danger. In a mix of Punjabi and English, he calls for a “global blockade” of Air India and tells the Indian government to close the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on November 19. He points out that the “World Terror Cup” (cricket World Cup) final match also takes place on November 19. (The match will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.)
After more threats and warnings, he declares: “We are going to break the backbone of [the] Indian economic system.
Indian media have also pointed out that November 19 marks the birth anniversary of the late Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi who was assassinated for ordering Operation Blue Star in the Golden Temple in 1984.
Some view Pannun’s ranting and raving as empty threats meant to garner publicity for the Khalistan cause. Others want Canada to take them seriously, pointing out how the government failed to protect Air India in spite of warnings and information back in the 1980s.
The Indian High Commissioner in Ottawa, Sanjay Kumar Verma, told an Indian newspaper that he will take up the threat against Air India flights in Canada with the authorities here.
He said the contents of the video are in clear violation of the Chicago Convention, which lays out a framework for international civil aviation operations. The bilateral civil aviation agreement between India and Canada has provisions to tackle such threats, he told the newspaper.