Gurpreet Singh: B.C. government proclaims Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Centenary

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      Following sustained efforts of Mehak Punjab Dee TV, the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), the B.C. government has proclaimed April 13, 2019, as “The Commemoration of the Centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Day”.

      On that day in 1919, scores of peaceful protestors were killed in an unprovoked firing by the British troops at Jallianwala Bagh public park in Amritsar, India.

      The demonstrators had gathered in protest against the repressive laws and arrests of leaders of the passive resistance movement against British occupation of India.

      The bloody episode galvanized the freedom movement that culminated in the end of British rule in 1947.

      Video: Richard Attenborough's 1982 film Ghandi showed British troops firing on unarmed demonstrators in Amritsar in 1919.

      One hundred years later, the B.C. government has recognized the tragedy with Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin and Attorney General David Eby issuing a proclamation, an e-copy of which has already been received by the IAPI.

      It initiated the demand on behalf of two other groups, including one led by prominent community activist Sahib Thind, who successfully campaigned for the apology for Komagata Maru incident.

      In 1914, the Japanese vessel was carrying more than 350 South Asian passengers when the Canadian government forced it to leave Vancouver's harbour under a discriminatory immigration law, which was aimed at keeping Canada a white man’s country.

      Thind launched the campaign for a formal apology for that incident. Finally in 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an official apology in the House of Commons.

      Video: The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre scene as depicted in The Legend of Bhagat Singh.

      Encouraged by the results, Thind has started efforts to get a similar apology from the British Parliament, recently visited England to lobby for this.

      He has already succeeded in getting a unanimous motion passed in the Punjab state assembly asking the British government for an official apology for Jallianwala Bagh episode.

      Likewise, Mehak Punjab Dee TV producer Kamaljit Singh Thind (no relationship with Sahib Thind) started an online petition seeking a British apology for Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He is also instrumental behind annual vigils that are organized in Surrey every year in memory of the victims of Jallianwala Bagh incident.

      Kamaljit Singh Thind has also organized exhibitions depicting the tragedy at Vaisakhi parades in Vancouver and Surrey.

      The Jallianwala Bagh massacre is recognized every year in annual Vaisakhi parades in Metro Vancouver.
      Charlie Smith

      Significantly, the proclamation reads “Whereas, the Government of British Columbia, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, invites the citizens of British Columbia to reflect on this tragedy and learn more about the history and contributions of India Canadians”.

      Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor and a cofounder of Radical Desi and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India.