Campaign on for ‘Sikh genocide remembrance day’ in Canada

Fresh off their success in getting the Canadian government to remove all references to Sikh/Khalistani extremism in its 2018 ‘Public report on the terror threat’ to the country, some Sikh groups are now applying pressure on the Justin Trudeau dispensation to declare a nationwide ‘Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day’.

These groups will use activities during their observation of the 35th anniversary of Operation Bluestar to pursue their objective.

Among the groups behind the move is the Ontario Gurdwara Committee or OGC, which had also been active during the lobbying campaign to have the reference deleted from the public report after it was released in December last year.

Pro-Khalistani figures like Sukhminder Singh Hansra are also involved in the campaign, as he is the coordinator of the umbrella body, United Front of Sikhs, which is backing it.

As they hold a rally in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, a memorandum will be sent to the office of the Prime Minister asking him to declare the first Saturday of June every year as the ‘Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day’.

At the same time, they plan on starting an email campaign which will target MPs in the House of Commons.

Hansra said he was hopeful that a private member’s bill in this regard will be tabled in the House.

Also read | Operation Bluestar: Seven people who changed the course of Indian history in 1984

With Federal elections in Canada due this October, they see a window of opportunity to attain their goal, as Hansra said, “We are targeting key MPs ahead of the upcoming federal election to support this bill and our cause.”

Relations between India and the Trudeau Government first began to suffer when a private member’s bill to recognise the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India as genocide was passed by the legislature in Ontario in the summer of 2017.

A similar motion had been moved in the House of Commons by Sukh Dhaliwal in 2010, but that was defeated. Dhaliwal is a sitting Liberal Party MP from the province of British Columbia.

Another sitting MP, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) had moved such a motion in the Ontario legislature in 2016 (he was a provincial legislator at the time), but that had also been voted down.

However, it set a precedent for the successful motion brought the next year by then Liberal Party member Harinder Malhi.

Also read | Operation Bluestar Jodhpur ‘detainees’: 34 yrs on, Rs 4.5 cr compensation for 40 Sikhs, Punjab agrees to pay half but Centre files challenge

First Published:
Jun 02, 2019 15:19 IST

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