A new Stop of Interest sign was unveiled in Golden today, recognizing the community’s early Sikh pioneers and the role they played in Golden’s history.
“This new Stop of Interest recognizes the important contributions early Sikh settlers made in Golden and throughout the Interior of B.C.,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone. “This is a good example of the Stop of Interest signs we want to add across the province, to tell the stories of how B.C. was shaped through the contributions of many different ethnicities and cultures.”
“We acknowledge the Gurdwara in Golden as the first in B.C., and quite likely the first in North America,” said Pyara Lotay, on behalf of the local Sikh community. “We thank the B.C. government for recognizing Golden’s Sikh pioneers and their place of worship with this Stop of Interest.”
The sign recognizing Golden’s Sikhs was originally a small local area history sign located next to the ‘Golden’ Stop of Interest sign at the viewpoint off Golden View Road. The new sign will replace the ‘Golden’ Stop of Interest sign, and the refurbished ‘Golden’ sign will be relocated to a site to be selected in consultation with the Town of Golden.
“The story of our community’s Sikh pioneers is one of hard work and determination,” said Golden mayor Ron Oszust. “This Stop of Interest means a lot to our present-day Sikh residents, and highlights an important chapter in the rich history of our region, of which we’re all proud.”
B.C.’s Stop of Interest signs were first installed in 1958 to commemorate the Colony of B.C.’s centenary and recognize significant historical places, people and events. The ministry is refurbishing existing signs in need of repair and updating language where necessary.
In addition, the Province is adding up to 75 new Stop of Interest signs. British Columbians are invited to submit ideas for new Stop of Interest signs and share interesting stories that could be told to people travelling B.C.’s highways. Submissions will be accepted through Jan. 31, 2017.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will install the majority of the new Stop of Interest signs in late spring/early summer 2017.
An article published Monday in the Times of India cited a report by Punjab intelligence identifying Hardeep Nijjar as the “operational head of (the) Khalistan Terror Force (KTF).”
According to the report, Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, has lived in Surrey since 1995.
He is wanted in India in connection with a blast at a cinema in Ludhiana in the Punjab province, where six people died in 2007.
The report alleges Nijjar has been training at least four Sikh youths on how to use AK-47s for the purpose of carrying out attacks in India.
The training took place “in a (rifle) range near Mission where they were made to fire for four hours daily,” said the report.
One of the trainees, Mandeep Singh, was arrested two weeks ago, said the Times. Singh arrived in India in January from Canada and is accused of being involved in a terrorist plot.
The report claims Singh was on a reconnaissance mission and that Nijjar was to arrange weapons from Pakistan.
The Times said India intelligence agencies have alerted Canadian authorities to the alleged camp, and have already submitted an application seeking Nijjar’s extradition.
Global Affairs Canada wasn’t available for comment late Sunday.
This isn’t the first time India authorities have requested Canada track Nijjar. In 2015, India police requested RCMP track his whereabouts after he was suspected of a plot to transport ammunition by paraglider over the Pakistan-India border.
That plan was foiled after the arrest of Jagtar Tara, described as the former chief of the KTF.
Inderjit Singh Reyat, seen in 2010, still supports political-based violence, the parole board said, and has only recently shown “partial” acceptance of responsibility in connection with the the Air India bombings of 1985. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
Terry Milewski has worked in fifty countries during 38 years with the CBC. He was the CBC’s first Middle East Bureau Chief, spent eight years in Washington during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations and was based in Vancouver for fourteen years. He now covers politics as Senior Correspondent in Ottawa.
In the mafia, it’s called omerta — the code of silence. Thirty years on, that code means still more bitter medicine for the Air India families.
Once again, the bomb-maker is getting out and, once again, he is keeping his mouth shut, offering just enough tactical repentance to ensure his release — and no more.
He is Inderjit Singh Reyat, convicted three times but still the only man convicted at all in Canada’s worst-ever mass murder. Until Sept. 11, the bombing of Air India on June 23, 1985, was the deadliest terrorist attack anywhere, ever.
A mechanic from Punjab, living on Vancouver Island, Reyat bought the dynamite, the detonators and the batteries that took the lives of 329 passengers on Air India’s Flight 182, which left from Toronto, stopped in Montreal and exploded over the coast of Ireland on its way to Heathrow Airport in London.
A second bomb blew up nearly simultaneously, killing two Japanese baggage handlers as they transferred it to another Air India flight leaving Narita International Airport in Tokyo. Both bombs originated in Vancouver. The passengers who checked them in never boarded. The plan was to produce two spectacular massacres, one on each side of the globe.
In total, 331 innocents died that day. Most were Canadians. Dozens were children. Whole families were wiped out.
Perjury at trial led to acquittals
Reyat, a member of an extremist group fighting for a Sikh homeland, was first convicted for building the Narita bomb. Then, at the Air India trial in Vancouver, he was jointly accused with two other Sikh fundamentalists for mass murder on Flight 182.
Reyat refused to tell what he knew, but cut a deal and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The other two, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted.
The wreckage from Air India 182, reassembled in a hangar, is seen from a trial exhibit. (RCMP trial exhibit)
Reyat’s silence, though, cost him a third conviction, this time for perjury. He had told bare-faced lies in court to protect his co-conspirators. After serving two-thirds of his sentence, the National Parole Board was bound to release him — statutory release is, after all, statutory — but it did so with evident unease.
Reyat, after all, is not just the only man to serve time for this atrocity, but he’s also, by the board’s account, the main reason why nobody else did.
“As a result of your committing perjury, the co-accused were not convicted,” the board said flatly in its decision.
That sums it up. Reyat knows who else was involved, but refuses to give them up and that’s why they have not paid for their crimes. The parole board seems unconvinced that Reyat regrets any of this, even now.
Citing a psychologist’s report written in 2013, the decision says the report found that he lacks “true empathy and remorse” for the victims of the bombings.
Is it so bad that he remains a threat, even today? The board offers little comfort on that score, either. It says that Reyat’s association with the group that blew up Air India was “inactive while incarcerated,” but that his “affiliation has not been terminated.”
So not much has changed. His affiliation seems as firm as it was in 2003, when he wrapped up his trial testimony by bowing, his hands together in salute, to his two co-accused.
Inderjit Singh Reyat, left, and Talwinder Singh Parmar are shown at the courthouse in Duncan, B.C., on Nov. 8, 1985. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)
That testimony was, essentially, a pack of lies. Reyat insisted, for example, that he never knew the name of “Mr. X,” the man from Toronto who stayed in his home for a week, with Reyat’s wife and children, while they built the bombs.
Prosecutor Len Doust was incredulous and asked Reyat, “Did you have his phone number?” Reyat said yes. Well, then, Doust asked, “If you called him, who were you going to ask for?”
Reyat just mumbled, He had no answer. But Justice Ian Bruce Josephson didn’t mince words in his verdict.
“Much of his evidence was improbable in the extreme and entirely inconsistent with common sense,” Josephson said.
“When caught in obvious and numerous irrationalities, he would seek refuge in memory loss … his evidence was patently and pathetically fabricated in an attempt to minimize his involvement in his crime to an extreme degree, while refusing to reveal relevant information he clearly possesses.”
And that, for Josephson, made Reyat’s claims of remorse fraudulent.
“His hollow expression of remorse must have been a bitter pill for the families of the victims. If he harboured even the slightest degree of genuine remorse, he would have been more forthcoming.”
Released to halfway house
Now, after serving three prison terms, a remorseless Reyat is to be released to a halfway house under strict conditions. Explaining those conditions, the parole board addressed him directly, emphasizing that “you have maintained the lies you told in court as recently as mid-2013.”
Wreckage of Air India is shown underwater from a trial exhibit. (RCMP trial exhibit)
The board goes on to acknowledge Reyat’s belated acceptance of a small measure of responsibility as the time for his release grew near.
“You have indicated that you now recognize that your deception while testifying demonstrates your support for political-based violence. Your shift to accepting this responsibility is only partial and relatively recent.”
Indeed. And don’t expect Reyat to stop maintaining his lies now. As we approach the 31st anniversary of the bombing, the code of omerta endures and the Air India coverup continues.
A young man who was arrested during the investigation into a series of drug-related shootings in Surrey has pleaded guilty to a number of gun and drug charges.
Arman Singh Dhatt, 19, appeared in provincial court in Surrey on Tuesday morning to enter the pleas. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Dhatt pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking in a controlled substance, possessing a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, possessing a firearm with an altered serial number, possessing a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, possession for the purpose of trafficking and two breaches of an undertaking.
Most of the offences stem from a search warrant that was executed at his home in Delta on April 10, however the trafficking charge and one breach are from March 25.
Police seized guns, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and Canadian cash during the search of Dhatt’s home.
Police said Dhatt and others came to their attention during their investigation into a large number of shootings that have taken place in Surrey since March.
The gunplay is related to a low-level drug turf war between two groups of dial-a-dopers. One group already has control of the drug trade in the Newton area, and another group is attempting a takeover.
The most recent shooting that police have confirmed is related to the dispute took place in September.
Statement from Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy, Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge
I would like to provide an update on the recent shootings that have been occurring in Surrey and Delta. I know our citizens and business owners are very concerned and I want to provide them with information on our progress.
Since March 9th, Surrey has had 16 shootings and Delta has had 3. Together with Delta Police, we have determined that 11 of the 19 shootings are related to two groups who are involved in low-level drug trafficking. The two groups are of South Asian and Somalian descent. We believe these two groups are competing over turf and have chosen to jeopardize public safety in that process.
This type of violence is completely unacceptable. Since the very first shooting, the Surrey RCMP has been working diligently with our law enforcement partners in Delta, the RCMP Lower Mainland District and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
Over the past five weeks we have used numerous tactics, including overt and covert enforcement initiatives and community engagement, to gather intelligence and evidence on those we believe are involved in these targeted shootings.
We have reached out to elders and leaders in both the Somali and Sikh communities. We also have two police officers who are involved in a Sikh youth leadership pilot program at our local temples. In addition, we have spoken to many of the family members of those involved in these shootings.
As a result of information shared at the press conference we held on March 12th:
• We have received many tips directly to our office and via Crime Stoppers that have allowed us to identify several previously unknown persons associated to both groups.
• We have identified and recovered one of the vehicles suspected to have been used in one of the shootings;
• We have made one arrest. Delta resident Arman Dhatt was arrested Friday and has been charged with 12 firearms and drug trafficking offences. Our investigative efforts are continuing in regards to his possible involvement in the shootings.
However, the victims and intended victims of these shootings have been uncooperative with police. Upon questioning, these young men have said things such as:
• “The bullets fell from the sky.”
• “I will take care of it myself.”
• “Don’t you worry about it… No need for you cops to be here.”
• One of the victims also told investigators that he knew who the shooters were and the motive behind the shooting but did not wish to tell police.
As you can imagine, this lack of cooperation has significantly impacted our ability to make any arrests.
While both the victims and suspects in these cases are determined to settle their differences outside the law, we are determined to stop the violence. We are disappointed with the lack of cooperation from the victims and we know the community is frustrated as well.
Today, I again appeal to the family, friends and those of you who know any of the people pictured here. We need information on their whereabouts, their connections, and their activities. Any information could benefit the investigations and help prevent somebody else being shot.
Since our March 12th press conference, our investigators have identified 8 additional males who have been victims or intended victims in these shootings and have not been forthcoming with information on the incidents that threatened their lives. To further our investigative efforts we are releasing their identities as follows:
1. Adam LAKATOS (Surrey resident)
2. Derrick BEQUETTE (Surrey resident)
3. Chadanjot GILL (Surrey resident)
4. Shakiel BASRA (Delta resident)
5. Sukhpreet PANSAL (Delta resident)
6. Sukhraj CHAHAL (Surrey resident)
7. Tirath TAGGAR (Surrey resident)
8. Charandeep TIWANA (Surrey resident)
We also continue to seek additional information about the 5 individuals we presented to you on March 12th:
1. Sameh MOHAMMED (Surrey resident)
2. Pardip BRAR (Delta resident)
3. Amrit KULAR (Surrey resident)
4. Indervir JOHAL (Surrey resident)
5. Pardeep SINGH (Surrey resident)
We are asking anyone with information on any of the shootings or on the activities of any of these 13 people to contact the Surrey RCMP, Delta Police, or Crime Stoppers if you wish to remain anonymous.
To the citizens of Surrey and Delta, I assure you that our work on these egregious acts continues every day, 24/7. Thank you for your trust, and for your assistance.
Statement from A/Chief Lyle Beaudoin, Delta Police
“Delta Police is committed to the ongoing safety and security of our community. While Delta Police believe that the incidents occurring in Delta are targeted against specific individuals, the brazen nature of the shootings in residential and other public locations where members of the community should feel safe is hugely concerning and our utmost priority.
“Delta Police continue to vigorously investigate these shootings in an attempt to locate and prosecute those responsible. Our dedicated investigative teams are in regular contact with our partner agencies including the Surrey RCMP, IHIT, the Combined Special Enforcement Unit and the Real Time Intelligence Centre.”