About 700 people donated blood at camps organized by the Sikh Nation across B.C. in memory of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in India.
The Sikh Nation has organized annual blood-donation camps to mark the anniversary of the massacre during the first week of November since the assassination of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
The supporters of Indira Gandhi's so-called secular Congress party led mobs who mobbed, robbed, raped, and murdered Sikhs across India. Prominent Congress leaders involved in the mass murders have not been punished even after 28 years have passed.
Ironically, India had its first turbaned Sikh president, Zail Singh, during the pogrom. The country is currently led by its first Sikh prime minister, Manmohan Singh.
Defying rain, many people showed up at the blood-donation camps on Saturday. There was a wait of at least two hours at one camp, according to Dr. Barjinder Singh of Sikh Nation.
A moment of silence was also observed across B.C. at 6 pm. on November 1, 2012, in memory of the victims. I too went silent on air for a minute before my evening news broadcast.
Sunil Sharma, a volunteer associated with the blood-donation campaign, noted that the violence started around 6 p.m. on November 1, 1984: "It was therefore fitting to hold a moment of silence at sharp 6.''
The organizers have sent another message to shame the Indian government by commending Brian Murphy, a U.S. police officer who was injured during recent racial violence at a Wisconsin Sikh temple in which six Sikhs were murdered. The U.S. has recognized it as its own tragedy and lowered its national flag to half-mast.
"The idea is to tell the world that the Indian establishment, too, could have saved many lives if it had a political will," Barjinder Singh said.
Notably, such a massacre did not happen against Sikhs or Muslims in the U.S. even after 9/11, despite isolated hate attacks. At no point in time did U.S. politicians go on a 1984-like rampage against any minority group.
It is a separate matter that the U.S.-led imperialist wars against Afghanistan and Iraq brought deaths and massive destruction.
It is sad that the Indian government, which has repeatedly raised its concerns with the Canadian government over the increased activities of Sikh separatists in this country, has not taken any strong political initiative to bring the culprits of the 1984 violence to justice.
Such indifference and arrogance is actually legitimizing the cause of the Sikh separatists and strengthening their hands. This leaves those who care about social justice with few options besides protesting or organizing events to shame the secular establishment of the world's largest democracy.
Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor and the host of a program on Radio India. He's working on a book tentatively titled Canada's 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings.