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How NDP leader Jagmeet Singh skirted questions about ‘martyr’ Parmar

Milewski tweeted that Jagmeet Singh — the first Sikh or non-white to hold such a position in a federal party in the country — first sought the questions prior to the interview and later, when refused, he reconsidered and agreed to be interviewed.

world Updated: Oct 05, 2017 11:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
NDP leader,Jagmeet Singh,Terry Milewski
File photo of Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh, who is in the race to become the next chief of the New Democratic Party.(Facebook)

On Jagmeet Singh’s first day of work as leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada on Monday (Tuesday in India), the TV channel CBC’s Terry Milewski interviewed him on a show called Power and Politics, and the question of his identification with Sikh separatism vis-a-vis India came up. Milewski later tweeted that Singh — the first Sikh or non-white to hold such a position in a federal party in the country — first sought the questions prior to the interview and later, when refused, he reconsidered and agreed to be interviewed.

Following the interview, Milewski tweeted, “New NDP leader refuses to denounce display of ‘martyr’ posters of Air India bomber.”

Also put on the website of Toronto Sun, here are some extracts from the exchange:

Milewski: Do you think that some Canadian Sikhs go too far when they honour Talwinder Singh Parmar as a martyr of the Sikh nation … when he was the architect of the Air India bombing? Do you think that’s appropriate?

(Parmar, never convicted of the 1985 mid-air bombing of Air India Flight 182 in which 329 people died in Canada’s worst case of terrorism, is widely considered to have masterminded it. He was killed by the Punjab police in India in an encounter in 1992.)

Singh: Well, I think it’s so important that we really clarify a misconception that exists. There has been a lot of work ... to be creating a conflict that’s between Hindus and Sikhs, and for me that’s something that really offended me ...

Milewski: Forgive me, but you could do that right now by saying, ‘No, it isn’t appropriate to put up posters of Canada’s worst ever mass murderer as a martyr.’ Do you think that’s appropriate?

Singh: Let me ... just clarify a point here. It is so important that we rid this notion that there has ever been a conflict between Hindus and Sikhs …

Milewski (interrupting): For the third time I am asking, it is not a hard question ... Is it appropriate…?

Singh: Let me finish my sentence …

Milewski: What about putting up posters of Parmar...? Is that appropriate? Yes or no?

Singh: It is so unacceptable that the violence that was committed ... I regularly denounce it on the anniversary ... there is no question about this, that innocent lives were killed, and it is completely unacceptable and needs to be denounced as a terrorist act.

Milewski: So you won’t denounce those posters of Parmar?

Singh: I don’t know who was responsible. But I think we need to find out who was truly responsible; we need to make sure that the investigation actually results in a conviction of someone who was actually responsible ...

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 11:35 IST