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1984 Sikh Riots: Let’s get the facts straight!

Justice For victims and not Divisive POLITICS

The members of the Indo-Canadian community, made up of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Jains, and Buddhists, have serious concerns regarding the attempt by some members of the Sikh diaspora across Canada to politicize the 1984 Sikh riots as “genocide” so that they can promote their separatist agenda.

The Harmony Committee feel that it is important to put forward the facts, and informed decisions are made. We cannot allow personal agendas of few political leaders to do damage not only to the communal harmony but also put in jeopardy our relations with India, our ally.

Following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31st October 1984 (the headlivehe governing Congress Party), by her 2 Sikh bodyguards, a few senior Congress Party leaders instigated Congress Party workers to take revenge on innocent Sikhs living in mostly Delhi and adjoining States. In the ensuing violence, 3386 persons of Sikh origin were killed. Out of this number, 2733 people have killed in Delhi alone.

From the testimonies of survivors and witnesses, the atrocities committed were horrifying. Some of us in this Committee who are from Delhi and adjoining States worked hard to protect many Sikhs.

Was it a genocide? No!
Were these gross atrocities? YES!
Were human rights of Sikhs living in Delhi and some other states violated? YES!
Was the State responsible? NO!

As mentioned above some Senior Congress Party Leaders instigated the Congress Party workers and sympathizers to attack innocent Sikhs to seek revenge for the assassination of Indira Gandhi. All the opposition parties and many Congress Leaders strongly condemned this violence.

On August 12, 2005, the then Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh (from the Congress Party and a Sikh himself) apologized in the Indian Parliament for the 1984 riots.

Subsequent commissions of inquiries (Kapur-Mittal/1987) indicted 70 police officers for their lapses in controlling the riots, while the Jain Aggrawal committee appointed in 1990 identified 90 police offers for lapses during the riots. The total number of police officers indicted by the two committees was 147.

In all, 3170 people were arrested out of which 442 people were convicted for their participation in the riots in Delhi. In Haryana, 15 people were convicted, and in other states, 13 were convicted.

It is important to note that the total population of Sikhs in India is 29 million, out of which 27.7 million live in the State of Punjab (Sikhs 57%, Hindus 38%, and 5% others).  Other notable States having large Sikh communities are Haryana (5%), Delhi (5%), and others have less than 5%. The majority of the atrocities committed by the Congress Party were in the States of Delhi, and Haryana, both states in which they were in power at that time.

We cannot and must not forget that justice must be given to the victims and survivors of these atrocities. We cannot allow hooligans, and terrorists or separatists to hijack our agenda of peaceful coexistence both here and in India.

One must not forget the bombing of Air India 182 originating from Toronto to Delhi where 268 Canadian citizens died in 1985. This bombing was carried out by a Sikh separatist based in Vancouver. Inderjit Singh Reyat was sentenced to 15 years in jail in Vancouver. It was the largest terrorist attack and mass murder originating from Canada. June 23rd (the day of the bombing) has been proclaimed by the Queen of Canada as requesting the people of Canada to observe this day every year as a National Day of Remembrance for the victims of terrorism.

It is important to note that where a majority of Sikhs live in the State of Punjab, there was no violence and till date both the communities lives in peace and harmony. There is a Congress-ruled, democratically elected Government in Punjab at present.

Sikhs are considered brave and have always enjoyed a special place in the history of India, and continue to do so. Sikhs enjoy a robust democracy in Punjab and they have always been a sizeable community across India. Even today, Delhi has over 5% Sikhs of its total population.

All anybody has to do is to go to India and see them living peacefully with their fellow citizens. Sikhs have excelled and led their way in politics, armed forces, sports, writers, actors, poets, and musicians. Farmers of Punjab gave the highest productivity yield. All this, in the context of united India.

List of prominent Sikhs that held highest positions in India:

President of India & Supreme Commander-in-Chief: Giani Zail Singh
Prime Minister of India: Dr. Manmohan Singh
Cabinet Ministers:  Baldev Singh, Swarn Singh, Buta Singh, Surjeet Singh Barnala, Preneet Kaur, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Maneka Gandhi.
Speakers of Federal Parliament: Dr. Gurdial Singh Dhillon, Hukum Singh
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India: Jagdish Singh Kehar
There have been several Chief of Defense Forces and recent names:
Gen. Bikram Singh and current Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa.
There are many senior Sikhs in Foreign Services and Senior Administrative Officers.
Few other popular Sikhs:  Khushwant Singh (Writer); Milkha Singh (Sportsman);
Dara Singh (Sportsman & Actor); Surinder Kaur (Song-Writer and Singer); Dharmendra (Actor); Harbhajan Singh & B.S. Bedi (Cricketers); Abhinav Bindra (World & Olympic Shooting Gold);
Sukhvinder Singh (Singer).

What is of concern to the larger Indo-Canadian community is the attempt by a small number of the Sikh diaspora, led by the now NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who wants to use this violence by calling a genocide so that he can push his separatist agenda. It is IMPORTANT to note they are not seeking justice for the victims and survivors.

Let’s look at their actions below:

  • Jagmeet Singh, then Deputy Leader of the Ontario NDP, on June 6, 2016, put forward a motion stating that in the opinion of the Ontario Legislature, the Ontario provincial government should recognize the state-organized violence perpetrated against Sikhs throughout India as genocide. This motion was defeated.
  • On the urging of the NDP Leader, MPP Harinder Malhi, moved a second motion on April 6, 2017 in the Ontario Legislature to condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 genocide perpetrated against Sikhs throughout India.
  • What is of concern to the Indo-Canadian community is that this motion was moved when only 39 members were present in the Legislature, out of a total of 107 MPPs. The motion passed with 34 votes in favor, and 5 votes against. This constitutes only 32% of the total number of MPPs at Queen’s Park, in contrast, the motion put forward by Jagmeet Singh, which was defeated, had 51% of total members present, which is why it is wrong to attribute this to be a decision of the whole Ontario Legislature.
  • Now that Jagmeet Singh is the Leader of the federal NDP, he is attempting to use once more his political platform to promote his religious and personal agenda. Recently, his parliamentary leader, MP Guy Caron, made a statement in the federal House of Commons in Ottawa, again trying to call it “genocide”, without knowing the full facts and background of the subject.

A very serious concern to the overall Indo-Canadian community is that, as a Federal Party leader, Jagmeet Singh is not focusing on issues that are important to all Canadians, but rather his personal agenda of promoting his separatist views. Sikh leaders of all parties in Punjab blasted him when he spoke on the issue of Punjab’s self-determination when there is already a thriving democracy in the State of Punjab. In an interview on CBC, he also refused to condemn the mass-murderer responsible for the biggest terrorist attack on Canadian soil, the Air India bombing. Why?  Because the masterminds, and others, are like Mr. Singh, harboring separatist motives (http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/jagmeet-singh-air-india-1.4362425).

Justice is finding its way through the Indian legal system. The Supreme Court of India in August of 2017 decided to open up investigations into 341 cases related to the 1984 riots, which were closed and to be reopened, as they were deemed not properly conducted, with the intention of bringing justice to the victims and survivors of the riots. Congress Party leader Sajjan Kumar who was identified as one of the instigators of the riots was ordered not to leave the country while these investigations are being conducted. Against another Congress Party leader, Jagdish Tytler, who was also identified as one of the main instigators in the 1984 riots and was given a clean sheet in the past, faces fresh charges filed now.

We bring these facts to your attention because Sikhs have always been part of the Indo-Canadian community, with excellent relations extending to families amongst us. We do not want personal agendas to break this harmony, peace, and unity.

As one of the survivors and wife of victims said, “she is not interested in compensations or apologies, but in bringing those responsible to justice”.

Only justice will bring successful closure to this terrible tragedy, not playing divisive politics.

Thanking you.

Dr. Azad K. Kaushik
Chair, The Harmony Committee

Love as Thought is Truth.
Love as Action is Right Conduct.
Love as Understanding is Peace.
Love as Feeling is Non-violence.

Let’s Spread Love, Peace and Harmony!


1 thought on “Hello World!”

  1. An unbiased factual retelling of the events. The current trend of some Sikh diaspora of skewing facts, calling the localised riots in two-three states/ provinces as Indiawide genocide is dangerous and is sowing seeds of discord for Canadian peace and harmony. It will have No Effect on Sikhs in India who are living peacefully.
    Banning Indian officials from Sikh temples is part of the same separatist game plan. It is imperative that Canadians in general and leaders in particular inform themselves from unbiased information sources and not from the ilk of leaders who moved misleading motions in Ontario legislature and are now eyeing at Federal level. These people may be politically active albeit succeful too, but do not represent the silent mainstream majority of Sikh diaspora.

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