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Sikhs Genocide (1984): Petition demanding recognition supported by Sikh Diaspora but opposed by Indians

June 10, 2010 | By

Toronto (June 10, 2010): Two Canadian MPs, including Punjab-born Sukh Dhaliwal, gave a notice to table a petition in the Canada’s parliament Wednesday asking the Canadian government to recognize the 1984 Sikh massacre in India, in which thousands of Sikhs were killed by Indians, as an act of genocide. The petition could be not tabled on Wednesday because of urgent government matters.

Sikhs were burnt alive during 1984 Sikh Genocide

Sikhs were burnt alive during 1984 Sikh Genocide

Andrew Kania, who represents the Punjabi-dominant Brampton West constituency on the outskirts of Toronto, has joined Dhaliwal in moving the petition in the House. Dhaliwal, who moved to Canada in 1984, represents another Sikh-dominant constituency of Newton-North Delta on the outskirts of Vancouver. Both the MPs, who belong to the opposition Liberal Party, say the petition has been signed by 10,000 people.

Four other MPs, including Indo-Canadian Navdeep Bains and Gurbax Malhi, are also reportedly supporting the petition. “The failure of successive Indian governments to bring to justice those responsible for mass revenge attacks on Sikhs after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi 25 years ago is a severe blot on India’s legal system and democracy,” the some newspapers quoted Bains as saying.

Pro-India Foundation opposes move aimed at securing recognize for 1984 Genocide

On the other hand Canada India Foundation, a Hindu dominated organization that claims to be a non-partisan, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to fostering support for stronger bi-lateral relations between Canada and India, urges rejection, by Canadian Parliamentarians and the Canadian public, of a petition calculated to inflame anti-India sentiments among the Sikhs and scheduled to be presented in the Canadian Parliament today.

In a press release CIF said that in recent years, Canada has made serious and progressive efforts in engaging with India and India’s political and business leaders have reciprocated with substantial commitments garnering investment of $12 Billion in Canada compared to Canadian investment of $500 Million in India.

CIF claims that against this backdrop, a petition, calculated to inflame anti-India sentiments among the Sikh community, is scheduled to be presented in the Canadian Parliament today by Mr. Andrew Kania, MP– Brampton West and Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal, MP– Newton/North Delta. In a letter sent to all Canadian Parliamentarians, Ramesh Chotai, Chair, Canada India Foundation, said, “We are writing to express our deepest concerns about the petition whose authors fail to reflect the views of a significant number of Canadian Sikhs who are proud of their Indian heritage and continue to have and grow their business, family and cultural ties to India”.

Release says that Canada India Foundation deplores the senseless and horrible violence, the loss of innocent lives and the damage that was done to innocent members of the Sikhs in India during the events in 1984, in the aftermath of the assassination of India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, said Aditya Jha, National Convenor, Canada India Foundation. But says that India “has been dealing” with the aftermath of the tragic events of 1984 through a democratic and judicial process and it is therefore considered an internal matter.

Mr. Jha of CIF also refereed to some Sikhs occupying high seats in India, including Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, in order to claim that Sikhs are equally treated in India.

“The presentation of the petition in Parliament is ill-advised and ill-intentioned since there is no justification for Canada to take the position that the petition demands”, said Manoj Pundit, National Spokesperson, Canada India Foundation.

CIF’s opposition: Sharp response from Canadian Sikhs

In a sharp response to CIF’s opposition the Canadian Sikhs have expressed their serious concern regarding the move undertaken by Sukh Dhaliwal and Andrew Kania. “What happened in first week of November 1984 in India was not “roits”, it was a large scale massacre of an small ethnic group, called the Sikhs. We just want that Canada should recognize it as such.” said Harprit Singh.

“It is senseless to say that demanding recognition for an anti-humanity act, committed with active/passive participation of  State Machinery, is a move do divide any so-called community.” said Surjit Singh, another Canadian. “While reffering to CIF’s claims and stand, he said that expressing solidarity for victims and opposing any move to secure recognition or justice for them, are  self contradictory.

It is notable that thousands of Sikhs were massacred and many more were displaced as a result of targeted violent acts undertaken by Hindu majority of India in first week of November 1984, after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister on 31 October, 1984. Since last 26 years various commissions were set up by India but none was able to bring justice for victims. Judicial system of India seems to have collapsed when we talk about cases related to 1984 massacre. Culprits are moving free and victims are suffering since last 26 years, whereas many have passed away awaiting justice. Now, it is worth consideration that how one could term any act of injustice as an “act bringing harmony” and an act of demanding justice as “an act, dividing communities”?

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