Thirty-six years after the state-sponsored massacre of Sikhs all over India, the City of Surrey has recognized the tragedy.
Thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered by the political goons following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards at her official residence on October 31, 1984.
In the first week of November that year, close to 3,000 Sikhs were murdered in the national capital of New Delhi alone by mobs supported by the police.
Sikhs in Canada have been holding commemorative events and an annual blood drive in memory of the victims every year during the month of November.
In a new proclamation, Surrey mayor Doug McCallum has declared November 2020 as “1984 Sikh Genocide Remembrance Month” in commemoration of the massacre.
This has been a longstanding demand of Sikhs, who have a sizeable population in Surrey. More than 250,000 Sikhs live and work in Surrey and surrounding areas, according to the proclamation. (See above.)
Surrey councillor Mandeep Nagra was instrumental behind the motion. He denounced “organized and systematic violence” that was carried out against the Sikh population throughout India in 1984.
The proclamation also acknowledged that this was “a clear violation of human rights and constituted genocide as defined under the laws of United Nations.”
Nagra also played a pivotal role in a proclamation in memory of the towering Punjabi human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, who was abducted and killed by the Indian police in 1995.
Khalra was investigating the cases of Sikh political activists who were murdered by police in an extra-judicial manner to suppress a movement for the right to self-determination. This year marked the 25th anniversary of his disappearance and murder.
Incidentally, Khalra’s grandfather was aboard Komagata Maru in 1914. At that time, the Canadian government force this Japanese vessel carrying more than 350 South Asian passengers to leave Vancouver's harbour and return to India under a discriminatory immigration policy designed to keep Canada as a “white man’s land.”
Last year, Nagra helped rename a stretch of 75A Street in Surrey as Komagata Maru Way.