A century later, tracing the episode
The Japanese steamship Komagata Maru arrived near Vancouver harbour on May 23, 1914, with 376 passengers, mostly Sikhs from India, many seeking to immigrate to Canada.chandigarh Updated: May 23, 2014 08:41 IST
The Japanese steamship Komagata Maru arrived near Vancouver harbour on May 23, 1914, with 376 passengers, mostly Sikhs from India, many seeking to immigrate to Canada.
However, immigration authorities refused to allow the majority to come ashore, citing the discriminatory Continuous Passage Regulation, a law that mandated that immigrants arrive in Canada directly from the home country.
For those from India, that was logistically impossible. The legislation has been considered racist and meant to be exclusionary.
The passengers had a standoff with the authorities, at times the angry passengers confronted them. One artifact surviving from that resistance is a half-brick thrown by a passenger, described as the “Hindu missile”.
Part of the reason for the action against those aboard the ship was that the British empire also considered some of the passengers to be linked to the revolutionary Ghadar movement.
On July 23, two months after the arrival of the ship, the resistance was overcome and it was escorted away from Vancouver and back to India.
On its arrival, British police boarded the vessel and attempted to ar rest the leaders of the passengers who they considered to be insurgents.
In the resultant riot, 19 passengers were killed and over 200 arrested in what came to be known as the Budge Budge Riot.