Members of Metro Vancouver's South Asian community came together to raise their voices for justice to the survivors of state sponsored violence against Sikhs in the first week of November, 1984.
Organized by the Indians Abroad for Pluralist India, the vigil was opened by Indigenous activist Jenifer Allen at Holland Park in Surrey on Sunday (November 1) evening.
She tried to make connections between cultural genocide of First Nations in Canada with the ongoing genocide of minorities elsewhere in the world.
Thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered all across India by the political goons following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards seeking revenge for a military attack on their holiest shrine in June that year.
Many senior politicians and police officers who were complicit in the massacre remain unpunished. Not only were the slain leader’s Congress party involved, but so too were members of the currently ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party.
This was done to polarize Hindu majority by demonizing Sikhs in the ensuing general election. This pattern has been repeated under the BJP rule because of the culture of impunity in 1984.
Speakers at the Surrey event were unanimous in their criticism of the Indian state for allowing systemic violence against religious minorities, including Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians—as well as oppressed communities such as Dalits [so-called "untouchables"}—under the garb of secularism and democracy.
Among those who addressed the gathering included member of Parliament Randeep Singh Sarai and Sikh activists Tejinder Kaur, Gian Singh Gill, Inderjit Singh Bains, Harbans Singh Aujla, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Charanjit Singh Sujjon, Dr. Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal, and Gurmukh Singh Deol.
Two Muslim activists, Imtiaz Popat and Sayed Wajahat, also spoke on the occasion. And Preet Manpreet and Parminder Swaich recited poems in memory of the victims of 1984 pogrom.
The participants raised slogans against ongoing state repression in India targeting minorities and political dissidents.