The Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday sought an apology from the Canadian Parliament for the Komagata Maru tragedy in which 19 freedom fighters were killed by British forces on the shores of Calcutta (Kolkata) in July 1914 after their ship was not allowed to anchor on the shores of Vancouver.
A resolution to this effect was moved by parliamentary affairs minister Madan Mohan Mittal, stating that “This House unanimously demands that the Indian government should seek an apology from Canada in their Parliament for the atrocities committed on the Indian people as they have apologised to the Chinese and the Japanese people for the inhuman behaviour meted out to them.”
The discussion on the resolution led to the demand by Akali minister Tota Singh for the passage of a separate resolution in the Indian Parliament for condemning the massacre of Sikhs in the 1984 carnage.
“We are asking the Canadian Parliament for the apology, but at the same time, we should also here write to the Prime Minister for moving a resolution in our Parliament for condemning the killings of 5,000 Sikhs in November 1984,” said Tota Singh.
Another Akali minister, Sohan Singh Thandal, demanded that the Indian Parliament should also adopt a resolution on the Komagata Maru killings before pressing the Canadian Parliament with the same demand.
Tota Singh’s demand for a resolution on the 1984 killings led to reservation among the opposition Congress benches as Tirlochan Singh (Congress) rose to demand that the killings of all people cutting across communities and religious lines between 1977 and 1993 should be condemned in the House.
Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, however, expunged further statements by the Congress MLA. Mittal suggested that the House should stick to its resolution on the Komagata Maru episode only and write in this regard to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The resolution mentioned that a ship carrying freedom fighters was detained by the Canadian government at the Vancouver port from May 23 to July 23, 1914; then, the ship was forced to return to India. When this ship reached Budge Budge port of Calcutta on September 29, 1914, the British government shot dead 19 freedom fighters and put many behind bars.