The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has welcomed the announcement made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday of tendering an apology in the House of Commons next month for the infamous Komagata Maru incident of 1914.
Trudeau made the announcement during the Baisakhi celebrations held in the Central Block of the Canadian Parliament. Over the years a large number of Sikhs residing in Canada and even in the United States and India have been demanding an apology from the Canadian government for the incident that is remembered as an example of Canada’s discriminatory immigration policies in the early 19th century.
In a statement released in Amritsar on Tuesday, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar welcomed the announcement and said it will send a positive message to the non-resident Indian (NRI) community, particularly Sikhs residing in Canada and other parts of the world.
Of the 376 Indians on board the Japanese ship Komagatu Maru, as many as 340 were Sikhs. Carrying the Indians, the ship left from Hong Kong and reached Vancouver, only to have nearly all of its passengers denied entry. As the ship remained docked in Canadian waters, 15 persons aboard it died of hunger and disease. The ship was eventually sent to Calcutta and at least 19 people were killed in an ensuing skirmish with British soldiers, while others were jailed.
Former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper did apologise for the incident at a public event in British Columbia in 2008, but Canadian-Sikhs have been demanding a formal statement in the Parliament.
Trudeau-led Liberal Party, which has four Sikh ministers in the cabinet, had promised a formal apology during the election campaign last year.
On Monday, admitting that Komagata Maru passengers were refused entry to Canada due to “discriminatory laws of the time”, Trudeau said he will stand in the House of Commons on May 18 to deliver the full apology.
Makkar praised Trudeau and said he had always come forward to help the Sikh community in Canada. “He (Justin Trudeau) has always been sympathetic to the demands of the Sikhs of his country,” said the SGPC chief.
Shakeel showers praise on Trudeau
New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday hailed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that he would offer a formal apology for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident. Party general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Punjab Shakeel Ahmad said on Twitter: “Welcome, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s statement, he will offer apology for Komagata Maru. Worthy son of the worthy father, Pierre Trudeau! (sic).”