Gurpreet Singh: Sikh victim of 1984 pogrom in India seeks help from Canada

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After losing faith in the Indian system, a victim of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom is currently touring Canada to muster support for justice.

Jagdish Kaur lost her husband, a son and three brothers during the bloodshed orchestrated by the ruling Congress Party following the 1984 assassination of then-Indian prime minister

Although she claims to have witnessed former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar instigating mobs to kill Sikhs, not a single topnotch Congress leader has been convicted of any crime.

"The Indian government lacks political will to bring justice," Kaur said. "As a result I am forced to seek help from the Canadian government."

(Earlier this year, Kumar was acquitted in connection with the killing of five Sikhs in 1984 after a judge ruled that he deserved the "benefit of the doubt".)

Kaur, who is crisscrossing Canada along with her son Gurdeep Singh wants the Canadian parliament to support a motion seeking recognition of the massacre as a "Sikh genocide" to help build international pressure against India for justice.

She met Canadian MPs on International Human Rights Day (December 10).

"India treats us as second-class citizens, so we have hopes from other countries," she said in an interview with this correspondent.   

She recalled how her husband, who served the Indian army, was brutally murdered along with her elder son, then 18 years old.

The hair of her son Gurdeep, who was six at that time, was cut to disguise him as a Hindu, and he was sent to the Hindu neighbours for safety.

"I clearly heard Kumar telling a crowd that no Sikh rascal should be spared and kill the Hindus who dare to protect them," she alleged.

Fearing for their safety, the Hindu family also gave up and let Gurdeep go.

Bitter over the injustice meted out to the victims she asked, "How can you expect anything from a government that keeps telling us to forget and forgive instead of punishing the guilty?"

She said that it’s a shame that the Sikhs were being seen as terrorists and traitors by the Congress government back then, even though they played a significant role in the country’s freedom struggle.

Her father, Harnam Singh Dhillon, participated in the liberation movement.

"My husband served the frontiers of the country as a true patriotic soldier, whereas my father fought for the liberation of this country," Kaur said. "Is this what they struggled for?’’

She also cautioned against attempts by the Hindu nationalist BJP party to elect Narendra Modi as the future prime minister of India.

Modi's government in the state of Gujarat has been accused of engineering an anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002.

"Had 1984 not happened to the Sikhs, the anti-Muslim massacre would not have happened either," she insisted.

Kaur feels that the mainstream political parties of India are used to indulging in communal violence to whip up the emotions of the majority community to remain in power.

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