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article imageOp-Ed: Two Sides to Vaisakhi Parade Issues-Street and Background

By Hans Smedbol     Apr 23, 2010 in World
Surrey - The Vaisakhi Day Parade in Surrey raises questions as to which is more important, the on-the-street participant's eye-view, or the behind-the-scenes political view, which may or may not inform the ordinary participant in the parade.
In a recent DJ op-ed piece Joseph Boltrukiewicz considered how there had been two different approaches to reporting on the Vaisakhi Day Parade in Surrey, which this year was marred (at least in the eyes of some) by the appearance (despite assurances to the contrary, that there would be none) of a "Martyr" float in the parade, which was photographed for the CBC article I referenced in my piece earlier. This "martyr" float carried pictures and laudatory words praising the efforts of the "martyrs" of Sikhdom, including the "martyrs" who were responsible for the murder of Indira Gandhi. These "martyrs" are also often known elsewhere (like in Canada and in India) as "murderers" and "terrorists" in their struggle against the Indian State.
The whole issue of the politicians came up because often politicians like to attend these kinds of events, if they can manage to not get tarred with the colours of any particular extremist views. They like to come, but they don't like controversy, because it reflects poorly upon their self-image, and their possible electability. However, Ujjal Dosanjh said that he had not been planning to attend anyways, as he is not a religious person, and he thinks the parade is mostly a religious parade, along with the float(s) glorifying the Sikh "martyrs" and that motto "They gave their tomorrows for our today".
The fact that the faces on the float were faces of labeled extremists, terrorists, was a major factor for some folks, such as Mayor Watts, who had come, dressed in Punjabi style, with a "positive" attitude, towards the parade, and which attitude VANISHED after she saw the float of "martyrs". She insisted had been promised that no such float would appear and so on. So she left, and then came back after the float left. She DID say that council in Surrey would revisit the Vaisakhi Day Parade's permit, and that they may not get one next year, because of that float.
The other two politicians would likely not have commented except that they were explicitly "uninvited" to the party on the Gurvinder Dhaliwal Show on the Sher-E-Punjab radio station, publicly snubbed by the presenter, Inderjeet Singh Bains. Hearing about that "uninvite", and especially the notice that they would have to bring their own security, they took it seriously as a threat, (such comments really are "assault") and reported the threats to the RCMP.
I don't think that they overreacted. It was a threat, despite being downplayed later by one of the temple managers. Many people think there has been way too much of this kind of threatening people who don't agree with the Khalistan ideas of violent revolution against the Indian state. Because of this threat to personal safety many of the Air India "witnesses" later recanted and refused to testify at the trial of the two accused "terrorists" associated with the same movement that this float represents. The threat is real. Not much need be said about that.
So, yes, there are two stories. Joseph's story is the story from the street, what an average joe might have expected to see and experience, without the background of the politics and religious differences to confuse the story. The other story (which I covered, somewhat), is that story which in many cases is hiding underneath the skirts of "propriety", underneath those "salwar kameez", the story of fanaticism, extremism, a belief in the validity of violence and war as a legitimate means of political expression with those you don't get along with.
We really must remember that multiculturalism is not only about parades, colourful clothes and delicious foods, but it also can unfortunately, if allowed, include some insidious, negative, threatening tones towards those who may not agree with the dominant culture's view of things (in this case I am referring to the Khalistaners as the "dominant" culture because of their pushiness in asserting their agenda.) If you can get beaten up just for decrying violent means to violent ends, then there is definitely a current of threat, anger, and violence playing through the overall Sikh population, at least in the forms of these folks who are promoting terrorism in their goals to attain their beloved "Khalistan".
Basically it's the result of the "guerrilla refugees" from the Sikh homeland bringing along their lengthy and sometimes violent struggle for political autonomy against the Indian federation. Many of the folks in Surrey may belong to that faction which believes in agitating politically, and indeed, even fighting a guerrilla war for the independence of their longed for homeland, "Khalistan".
Whether the average "joe" in the street knows about this aspect of Sikhism or not, still it is there. Whether the correspondent is able to spot the float with the Martyr's faces depicted so largely, and yet hope that there is no political issue underneath that parade I do not predict.
However, in my mind, and as I stated in my article, Canada is not the place to continue on with one's old political ambitions for the motherland, especially if those ambitions include murder, mayhem, and IED's. Unfortunately these folks do not appear to believe this, and continue to glorify folks who do commit murder, mayhem, and some of them do make IED's to blow up airliners, and so on and so on. This is not something that should be allowed in Canada.
Instead of wasting police resources on small time pot puffers, we should be investigating these kinds of dangerous sub groups of seemingly legitimate refugees, who slip in to our country to avoid prosecution and possible death in their own country, for the political, and rebellious acts that they may have committed, including murder, mayhem, and manufacturing IED's there.
The only reason that people don't react more to the crests and flags of "Khalistan" is most likely that they simply don't know what they are looking at. Nor it is very important for most ordinary Canadians to consider whether there should or should not be such a state in the Punjab. We simply don't care, unless our neighbour gets murdered over the issue. The Air India Bombing, however, was one example of their extremism taken to extremes so to speak. In the Air India attack, they carried out their extremist terrorist aims, in that long running struggle with the Indian state. However, instead of hurting the state, they killed ordinary mostly Canadian-Indians, and quite a few Sikhs too. So who suffered from this terrorism? Ordinary Canadians. Who benefited? Qui Bono? The only benefit appears to be the negative "tough-guy" reputation of the Terrorist types, in their "heroic" attacks on women and children.
Why are they not behind bars, already, and why is this still an ongoing issue, when it has been recognised and understood for many years now? Why do we let such people into Canada to begin with? Perhaps we need to put a better screening device into place, to protect Canadians from extremists and terrorists such as these. Perhaps a similar treatment could be devised to that which was used after 9/11, to subdue, and arrest all those potential Islamic terrorists out there. Was it some kind of "security certificate" or whatever? Perhaps that could be applied to this kind of extremist too? if they are continuing to advocate for violent revolution and mass killings of the 'bad guys' then perhaps it's time for closure of this line of attack at least here in Canada.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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