Toronto: India had complained for a year prior to the 1985 Air India bombing that Canada was not doing enough to protect its diplomatic personnel and flights from repeated threats from Sikh extremists, a former diplomat has said.
Testifying before the Air India inquiry commission, former Canadian High Commissioner to India William Warden said India was constantly protesting the inaction of Canadian authorities in prosecuting incidents of assaults and vandalism against their diplomats.
He cited two attacks against Indian diplomats in Winnipeg and Toronto in the summer of 1984 and the fact none of the attackers were successfully prosecuted.
Warden laid out his concerns in an 2 Aug 1984, telex to Ottawa in which he said India believes “Canada was failing to take vigorous action against extremists.”
About the Winnipeg attack in July, 1984, the telex said “police had scarcely exerted themselves to fend off assailants, let alone to provide effective protection to arrest those committing violence.”
Warden sent several similar telexes in the year before the bombing, which he said “should have created a greater sense of urgency, a greater appreciation for the threat that was building up.”
He said that in June-July 1984 he was called in about 18 times by Indian external affairs officials to hear their concerns about attacks on diplomatic staff in Canada.
After the Air India disaster one 23 June 1985 that killed 329 people, the Indian government response was essentially “we told you so”.