New Canadian Media
Tuesday, 28 February 2017 19:42

Mr. Reyat, Please Do the Right Thing

Commentary by Suresh Kurl in Richmond

Time passes, sometimes leaving behind only a knot of hurtful memories. Thirty years have gone by waiting for the news, when the living victims of the Air India tragedy would hear, feel and spend the rest of their days with some sense of justice. It seems like they will never realize their hopes.

Just ask those whom destiny left behind only to mourn loved ones lost on June 23, 1985.

The Air-India Bombing was not a car accident caused by a drunken driver on an icy Canadian road. It was a well planned, well financed and well executed aviation mass murder of 331 individuals. They had no idea before and after they boarded the plane that they were being taken – not to meet their relatives – but to the end of their own lives. Eyes still get moist and tears still roll down the cheeks when someone or something reminds Canadians of that dreadful day.

Inderjit Singh Reyat, the designated technician-cum-schemer of the 331 murders, made the bomb, tested the bomb and handed it over to his associate master-minds to execute the rest of the plot, to shatter the plane over the Atlantic Ocean. They did this rather effectively, leaving the Irish authorities scooping dead babies, lifeless adults, packed suitcases, floating dolls and pieces of the broken airplane for evidence.   

Two wrongs don't make a right

The Air India Bombing was plotted and executed to avenge the wounded honour of the GoldenTemple, a respected seat of worship and devotion. This temple assault, referred to as "Operation Blue Star" by the New Delhi government, had the approval of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was no less evil than the bombing of the Air India flights that followed.

Mrs. Gandhi could have chosen some other political and peaceful solution to resolve the national crisis, but she did not, just as Mr. Reyat and his associates could have adopted some other peaceful path to achieve the Sikh separatist agenda. But they did not, because they, especially Mr. Reyat, the designated technician, must have believed, "Two wrongs equal one right."

Co-incidentally, there are a few similarities between Mrs. Gandhi and Mr. Reyat. Both of them have the same derivative Sanskrit root, "in-" meaning, stubborn, determined, bold and energetic. 

Second, both of them suffered the consequences of their Karma (behaviour). PM Gandhi was assassinated at the hands of her trusted body guards. Reyat was doomed by his loyalty to his co-conspirators.

Not a solo plot

Who will ever believe that such a plot was the work of one person?  

Moreover, Mr. Reyat ended up protecting, insulating and covering his criminal associates through his own "perjury".  I call it destiny.

Third, their actions were a response to the demand for the creation of a separate nation, "Khalistan'.

Fourth, no one seems to admire them for the violence soaked sacrifices they made to  attain their objectives.  

Last week, Mr. Reyat was released from federal prison; technically, "paroled out". Where Mr. Reyat is going to live or with who he is going to live with is not of significance. What is significant is that he could never be free from the prison of his own guilt.

He might not even be able to sleep soundly. He might even suffer vivid nightmares of exploding planes and falling dead babies from the sky: all because he is unwilling to reconcile with the truth, compassion and honesty and universal love, the tenets of every religion, including his own religion.

Redeeming himself

Spiritually speaking, Mr. Reyat can only redeem himself of his portion of sins by disclosing the names of those who were involved in plotting, financing and executing this crime, which put him and him alone away in prison for a long time and caused him to suffer, socially, financially and spiritually.   

Mr. Reyat is a Sikh. If he believes in God, he must also believe in Karma, its consequences and rebirth.  If all this is true then the only option Mr. Reyat has is to pray for peace and strength to tell the truth and cleanse his conscience. Truth sets us free. Truth heals our wounded spirit. Truth prepares us to face our Creator.

As a spiritual human being, I am asking him to do the right thing for his soul and for the sake of his children and their children. He alone has the power to offer the gift of justice and peace to those he has victimized.  

Mr. Reyat, leave this world with your head high with pride, not bending low, burdened with the weight of lies and a guilty conscience. 


Dr. Suresh Kurl is a South Asian Community Activist, a former university professor, retired Registrar of the B.C. Benefits Appeal Board (Govt. of B.C.), a former Member of the National Parole Board (Govt. of Canada), a writer and public speaker.

 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary

by Roshini Nair (@Roshini_C_Nair) in Vancouver, British Columbia

It’s just after midnight in Delhi, India when I reach Orijit Sen, a renowned graphic novelist and artist. As part of the annual Indian Summer Festival, Vancouverites can see his artwork in an unexpected location: wrapped around a city bus.

“I’m interested in bringing the mobile public art which we have in India and placing that in Vancouver,” he says, adding that the presence of the colourfully decorated bus on city streets reflects the, “multicultural, cosmopolitan nature of Vancouver.”

The bus is covered in graphics inspired by the South Asian tradition of truck art. Sen explains that in India and Pakistan, trucks are usually privately owned or operated by small entrepreneurs. Drivers end up spending many months of the year traveling in their trucks. “[The] sense of decorating it, making it beautiful and looking after it comes from the personal connection to the truck,” he says.

For the transit bus artwork, Sen drew inspiration from his visit to Vancouver last year. For example, the graphic of an auto rickshaw driver on the bus was inspired by walking in Vancouver late at night wishing, “there was an auto rickshaw that I could just hail on the street and it would take me home … which is something I’m so used to doing in Delhi.”

“A lot of arts festivals or ideas festivals might only take up one discipline like the performing arts or literature or theatre, but we are arguing for a festival that nourishes the mind, the taste buds, [and] the senses in every possible way.” - Sirish Rao

It’s this sense of colliding worlds that lies at the heart of the annual Indian Summer Festival, which takes place in Vancouver from July 9 to 18 this year. Sirish Rao, founder of Indian Summer, says the festival is not just about crossing geographic boundaries, but entire disciplines.

“A lot of arts festivals or ideas festivals might only take up one discipline like the performing arts or literature or theatre, but we are arguing for a festival that nourishes the mind, the taste buds, [and] the senses in every possible way.”

A multidisciplinary approach

One of the more ambitious and whimsical events this year is a collision between the arts and science called “Genes and Jazz”. Featuring geneticist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Harold Varmus and the Jacob Varmus Quintet (Jacob is Harold's son), the performance will meld the mutations in cellular structures with improvised jazz chords.

This programming is supported by the festival’s partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Rao’s other role as an adjunct professor there.

“Stories from the Cab” presents the voices of taxi drivers, who work in one of the most racialized industries in Canada. It’s an event that challenges perceptions of place and immigration, and distinguishes the festival from other summer fare.

Vancouver blogger Salina Siu volunteered at a literary event for the festival as part of her coursework at SFU. Siu says she loved the opportunity of “being behind the scenes” and “working directly with the authors.”

This year, there’s a double-header literary event: “The Ever After” and “In the Driver’s Seat: Stories from the Cab”.

The first is a look at the loss and mourning that is rooted in the Air India bombing 30 years ago. At the time, the tragedy was considered India’s, even though most of the victims were Canadians of Indian origin. 

“Stories from the Cab” presents the voices of taxi drivers, who work in one of the most racialized industries in Canada. It’s an event that challenges perceptions of place and immigration, and distinguishes the festival from other summer fare. 

‘Engaging with contemporary ideas’

“Whereas a lot of cultural festivals, especially in the diaspora, tend to be nostalgic,” explains Rao, “we’re more interested in the contemporary. So it’s not about recreating a past, it’s about engaging with contemporary ideas.”

“Sometimes food is the first and easiest way to step across an unknown shore, and you might take the next step with music, and then you might come and hear someone speak. We see it as a long conversation.” - Sirish Rao

He points to a talk with prominent Iranian-American religious scholar Reza Aslan as an example of how the festival features high-profile guest speakers beyond the traditional borders of South Asia. Aslan’s sold out lecture on July 16 will tackle subjects like ISIS, identity and how faith is affected by geography.

Amongst the ideas, however, there is still space for raucous celebration: Vancouver celebrity chef Vikram Vij catered the opening gala on July 9, and the closing party “Taj Mahal Foxtrot” on July 18 will feature the finest of the 1930s Bombay jazz scene and a touch of vintage Bollywood. It’s why first-time festivalgoer Panzy Sandhu is going. 

She’s excited for the “arts, music, and different cuisine” after hearing about the festival from friends. This is what Rao hopes for: “Sometimes food is the first and easiest way to step across an unknown shore, and you might take the next step with music, and then you might come and hear someone speak. We see it as a long conversation.”

 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

 

Published in Arts & Culture

Highlights: Chan allegations discriminatory to Chinese Canadians? + Parents fight radicalization + One "hot and noisy night" + Why Afghan girls are dropping out of school + Lifeline Syria unveils ambitious new plan + much more 


 

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Here and Now

 

Flinging mud at the Chinese-Canadian community? Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan continues to draw criticism for his close ties with China, but Chan and other Chinese-Canadian media outlets are firing back. They argue it's discriminatory to question the loyalty of Chinese-Canadians. NCM's Shan Qiao tackles the debate. 

 

With a son who died fighting for ISIS, Christianne Boudreau made a drastic decision. She decided to go public with her story and dedicate herself to preventing radicalization in other Canadian families. How can parents stop their kids from joining extremist groups like ISIS? NCM mentee Shakeel Haider investigates. 

 

"Families require lots of support from the community network to stop the process of radicalization."

 

Wondering who to vote for in the upcoming federal election? Lebanese-Canadian blogger Fred Maroun argues "now is finally the right time to give the New Democrats a chance," especially for Canadians from the Middle East.

 

 

On the road! The play Secrets of a Black Boy launched its 2015 tour on Tuesday in Mississauga, Ont. Playwright Darren Anthony hopes his work can help other black men "articulate their feelings" about issues like suicide and gender identity. The tour continues into Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., where racial tensions have recently flared. 

 

"Should we develop Canada-China relations? Or should the person who promotes Canada-China relations be investigated?"

 

"Writing a cheque is easy." But what Lifeline Syria plans to do won't be. It launched a new movement last week to resettle 1,000 Syrian refugees in Toronto.Now, the group is hoping to mobilize ordinary citizens to create "sponsor groups" for these refugees, so that they can smoothly transition into Canadian life. 

 

Have a "Hot and Noisy Night" in Vancouver... Nope, it's not what you think! It's the name of a new public game night happening in the city's Chinatown, as part of an effort to revitalize the historic neighborhood. Can a lively game of mahjong dispel some of the "doom and gloom" hanging over Chinatown?

 

"Some families are worse than the Taliban." Afghan girls are still being prevented from attending school, long after the fall of the Taliban. NCM mentee Diba Hareer digs into the research to understand what barriers these girls continue to face-- and how it affects her own family overseas.

 

"My son told his sisters, 'Do the housework. That will benefit you in your future [after marriage]. School has no benefit for you.'" 

The mother of an Afghan girl forced to leave school, in Diba Hareer's new article for NCM

 

Ripples

 

The controversy continues! The backlash against Bill C-24, also known as the "Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act," has extended across the world, all the way to Sri Lanka's Parliament. 

Sri Lankan parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran recently denounced the bill, saying it could potentially create "a category of second class citizens." Over 140,000 Sri Lankan citizens currently reside in Canada. As immigrants or dual citizens, their Canadian citizenship could be taken away under Bill C-24, which went into effect earlier this month.
 
"Unconstitutional" and "un-Canadian" is how one expert from Simon Fraser University described the bill. Somayeh Bahrami argues that Bill C-24 redefines "what it means to be Canadian," by underscoring stereotypes about immigrants and dual citizens

 

Thirty years have passed since the Air India bombing, the deadliest terrorist attack in Canadian history. Now, as mourners gather in Vancouver for the anniversary, some are outraged that a portrait of the suspected mastermind hangs outside a B.C. Sikh temple
In 1985, Sikh extremists sent two suitcase-bombs aboard airplanes leaving Vancouver. One would eventually blow up a flight approaching Ireland, killing 329.
     
Where is Bangladesh’s money going? Capital flight is destabilizing Bangladesh's already weak economy, and Canada is the top destination for the cash. Business leaders and politicians are investing ill-gotten money in places like Toronto, where one neighborhood has taken on the name "Begum Para" for its large Bangladeshi population. 
"The best one so far." That's how participants are describing the Sixth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, the largest event of its kind. TheJamaican government spent $50 million to welcome members of the Jamaican diaspora back home for the conference. Two hundred Canadians attended. 
Against the backdrop of religious repression in the Soviet Union, Russian-speaking Jews started to organize conferences and activities to keep their heritage alive. Their group, Limmud FSU, is celebrating 35 years of educational activity this year, with activities in Canada and around the world.

A diaspora, giving back. One million Ethiopian children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Spurred to action, Toronto's Ethiopian community led an initiative to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, called "People to People Canada." Their annual walkathon to benefit HIV/AIDS orphanswill be held on June 28. 
A series of disasters rocked Ghana earlier this month. Floods struck its capital, and a fire at a petrol station turned into a deadly inferno. In response, the Ghanaian Canadian Association of British Columbia has released astatement of "solidarity to the survivors of the twin disasters."
One rotten apple spoils the... investment? Immigration consultant Hans Soer sold 600 Dutch families on the dream of growing apple orchards in Canada. But Soer's relationship with some families has soured, as their investments failed to bear fruit. The Financial Post asks, will these families ever recover their money? 

Harmony Jazz


Can Islam shake the stigma of being "foreign?" Aaron Hughes writes thatCanadians need to stop seeing Islam as "a religion of immigrants," since it forces young Muslims to choose between feeling Canadian and feeling Muslim. Hughes' grandfather helped to found Canada's first mosque, in 1938.
Public outcry forced the swift reversal of a controversial new airport screening policy. Harper's government had announced that anyone wearing a head covering, like a turban, would undergo a second screening at airports for explosive residue. But complaints led the government to remove the policy on Tuesday. 
The slur became the story, after President Barack Obama used the word "nigger" in an interview about America's race relations. The CBC's Washington correspondent Neil Macdonald argues that the media's focus was woefully misplaced, when in fact Obama was "finally trying to talk hard truth to Americans about racism."
 
Was Sikh cabinet minister Tim Uppal exploited for a "divisive attack?" Liberal leader Justin Trudeau accused the Conservatives of "using" Uppal to splinter different ethnic groups, by having him announce controversial new legislation. The proposed law would ban niqabs, worn by Muslim women to conceal their faces, at citizenship ceremonies.

Back Pocket

Looking for some extravagant summer reading? Author Kevin Kwan looks toCanada's Chinese community for inspiration in his newly released second novel, China Rich Girlfriend. He talked with the CBC about how Canada has "become such a staging area for Chinese money."

"It was almost like being an alien." Fiction writer Nafida Mohamed draws from her own background as a member of the Somali diaspora in her book, The Orchard of Lost Souls. But she goes further, researching and interviewing other Somali immigrants, in Canada and elsewhere, to recreate the "complex psychology of the pre-war period."
Have the luck of the Irish? Test it with the typically Irish card game, the 25! One Irish computer programmer, living in Vancouver, missed playing the game so much that he launched a company, "Play 25 Online." He and the company's co-founder hope that by re-envisioning the 25 as an online game, they can attract new players-- and bring members of the Irish diaspora a little taste of home
Notice more kilts and bagpipes than usual? That's because the 2015 B.C. Highland Games and Scottish Festival were held last weekend. Competitors flung heavy logs to test their strength in a traditional "caber toss," and young lassies kicked up their heels to the sounds of drums and pipes. The event helped mark the 50th anniversary of Simon Fraser University, named for an explorer of Scottish heritage
 
If you missed the 2015 B.C. Highland Games, check out a video of last year's festival, courtesy of Vic and Deb Friesen. 

 

We wish our readers a Happy Canada Day and a wonderful summer! NCM NewsFeed will be taking a summer break starting next week, but promises to be back soon.


Publisher’s Note: This NewsFeed was compiled with input from our Newsroom Editors and regular columnist, Andrew Griffith. We welcome your feedback.

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