Khalistan float thrown out of Toronto’s Baisakhi paradeApril 28th, 2008 - 11:33 am ICT by admin
Toronto, April 28 (IANS) Pro-Khalistan activists were not allowed to lead the annual Baisakhi parade here with a float glorifying anti-India Sikh militants. They were forced to pull the float out of Sunday’s parade. However, they still managed to have their way by walking with a huge pro-Khalistan banner at the head of the parade, which was attended by more than 50,000 people.
Before the parade started, its organisers - Ontario Sikh and Gurdwara Council - told the Khalistani activists that the float glorifying the slain separatist preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and militant leaders would not be allowed to be part of the procession.
The organisers feared top Canadian political leaders would not attend the celebrations because of the float, which glorified violence.
Having faced flak for attending a Baisakhi parade last year in Surrey near Vancouver in which Air India plot mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar was glorified, Canadian politicians now avoid attending such functions - as in Vancouver three weeks ago.
The pro-Khalistan float, which was ordered out of the parade Sunday, depicted the destruction of the Akal Takht - the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs - after the army action at the Golden Temple in 1984.
Apart from Bhindranwale, it also glorified Sukha and Jinda who killed former Indian Army chief General A.S. Vaidya whom they blamed for Operation Bluestar, the name for the army assault against Sikh militants at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The militants had parked their float-carrying vehicle at the head of the parade, but the police quietly took them away before the start of the procession. They raised pro-Khalistan slogans as a police car escorted them away from the scene.
Having lost their float, the pro-Khalistan activists tried to lead the parade with a banner that read: “Sikh Homeland Khalistan”. Again, they were pushed back to the second position by the organisers.
When the parade reached Nathan Phillips Square at the heart of Toronto, the radicals waved the Khalistan banner and raised pro-Khalistan slogans in the presence of top national leaders, including two Canadian opposition leaders Stephane Dion and Jack Layton, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and many MPs.
In their speeches, the organisers described the 1984 riots as one of the many “injustices” done to the Sikhs in India. Then they listed their grievances before the Canadian leaders present at the parade.
Urging the opposition parties not to let the government to enact immigration changes, they said these were aimed at visible immigrant communities. Since most immigrants, including Sikhs, traditionally vote for the Liberal party (now in opposition), the ruling Conservative party sent no representative to the celebrations.