Canada’s Bogus Moral Posturing


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Canada’s bogus moral posturing

Defending Canada’s decision not to grant visas to Indians associated with security forces or intelligence agencies, a Canadian tweeted to me, “Great nations must maintain high moral standards.” It would have been a profound statement had it not been made by a Canadian of Indian origin who, like many others of his ilk living in British Columbia, believes that Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale is alive and biding his time to revive the movement for Khalistan. Hope springs eternal in the darkened hearts of those who wish to see India suffer; there is nothing noble or moral about their posturing, nor is Canada’s cussedness driven by its commitment to higher values of nationhood or else it would not have opened its doors to those fleeing the law in their home country.

Strange though it may seem to us in India where the blood-soaked 1980s of Khalistani terrorism and its ghastly consequences are now a distant, fading memory and of which the new generation of Indians, including those from Punjab, know little and care about even less, reports suggest some sort of a revival of Sikh extremism in British Columbia. There have been public discussions in recent days centred around an issue that is considered long buried and forgotten. Apparently not so among a section of immigrants from Punjab who have embraced Canadian nationality and made that country their home, often citing political and religious persecution in the country of their origin to first seek refugee status and then citizenship. Invariably, many of them were wanted for crimes committed during the Khalistani movement; others merely cynically used Canada’s misplaced moral self-righteousness to their advantage. Sadly, they have succeeded in indoctrinating their offspring with their vile ideology.

The Toronto-based multi-city edition Globe and Mail informs us that a certain Gurpreet Singh, “who is writing a book about Sikh militancy, recently discussed the issue during his daily show on Radio India in Vancouver. He said he’s hearing passionate opinions from two sides: Those who say India has been smeared by Canadian bureaucrats; and those who feel vindicated that somebody is addressing the wrongs committed in recent decades. ‘Some say they’re killers in uniforms, and others say that’s unfair,’ he said. ‘It’s really controversial. There were a lot of fireworks’.”

Nearly 15 years after the terrorists’ guns fell silent in Punjab it’s mystifying why the issue should be raked up suddenly, apropos of nothing in particular. Conspiracy theorists would darkly hint at the coming 25th anniversary of the bombing of Air India’s Kanishka (flying on the Montreal-London-Delhi-Bombay route) on June 23, 1985. That dastardly and horrendous act of terrorism was planned and executed by Khalistanis living in Canada. The aircraft blew up off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people on board — 307 passengers and 22 crew members. Ironically, among the dead were 280 Canadian nationals, most of them of Indian origin, and 22 Indians. Twenty-five years and a 20-year sham trial later, the conspirators remain unpunished. So much for the high moral standards of nations that pretend to be greater and holier than others!

Others would hint at Delhi’s human rights activists and well-connected, socially mobile Left-liberal intellectuals fronting for Maobadis and engaged in whitewashing their mind-numbing crimes secretly canvassing with West European missions to secure their support in their nefarious anti-national deeds. This has been done in the past when jholawallahs have plied political officers at American and European missions with concocted reports indicting Indian security forces and politicians for ‘human rights violations’ in Jammu & Kashmir. We have also seen activists representing NGOs funded by European agencies relentlessly campaigning against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to prevent him from travelling abroad. It would, therefore, not be surprising if Maoists in the garb of ‘intellectuals’, ‘academics’ and ‘activists’ have started lobbying with the missions of countries like Canada.

Last week when media reported how the High Commission of Canada had denied a visa to Fateh Singh Pander, a retired head constable of the BSF (whose daughter lives in Canada) on the grounds that the para-military force he once served “has engaged in systematic attacks on civilians and has been responsible for systematically torturing suspected criminals”, there was more amusement than anger in New Delhi. Here was a naïve visa officer being sanctimonious. Probably he/she had been reading too much of Amnesty International’s bunkum or rifling through old copies of human rights reports prepared by bogus, church-funded organisations like Human Rights Watch stacked in the mission’s library.

I was later told that the visa officer is a relatively junior official, a First Secretary, who knows next to nothing about India, is a cussed individual prone to being nasty, and for the most basic facts about her host country and its institutions, ‘Googles’ for information. It is possible she looked up ‘BSF’ on a Website operated by Kashmiri separatists and came to the conclusion that it is a “violent” and “notorious” force. But then it transpired that there was a pattern to Canada rejecting visa applications submitted by a certain category of Indians — those associated with the Army, the paramilitary forces and the Intelligence Bureau.

Canada has neither the legal right nor the moral authority to play good cop and blackball democracies where the rule of law prevails. Canada’s own record of officially-sanctioned racism and racist violence would shame any country. The ‘exclusion laws’ devised by Canada to keep ‘darkies’ out are not entirely forgotten. The Komagata Maru incident in 1914 will forever remain a blot on Canada’s history. Nor should we forget Canada’s refusal to cooperate with India during the decade of Khalistani terrorism. Or Canada’s record of providing sanctuary to LTTE members, sympathisers and fund-raisers.

The Government of India did well to make it clear to the Canadian High Commissioner that while denying or granting visas is the mission’s prerogative, it had no business to attribute stunningly absurd reasons for its decisions that were tantamount to interfering with India’s internal affairs. That, coupled with the threat of ***-for-tat action by way of denying visas to Canadians travelling to and from Afghanistan via Delhi has worked wonders. The Canadian Government has issued what can be described as a grovelling apology and promised to review its immigration laws that allow mission staff to play ducks and drakes with visa applications. Hopefully, this is the last we have heard about Canada’s high moral standards.

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