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1984 anti-Sikh riots: Canadian party seeks justice

world Updated: Nov 04, 2010 15:17 IST

IANS
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Canadian opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which is desperately trying to woo the Sikh community, Wednesday described the anti-Sikh riots following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination as "the tragic pogroms of 1984 that targeted Sikh men, women and children".

"The New Democratic Party of Canada stands in solidarity with the Sikh community, demands justice for the survivors and an explanation for why and how this community was targeted by organised mobs and government officials," NDP leader Jack Layton said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said, "The victims and survivors of 1984 cannot sit idly by, waiting for the Indian government to recognise their plight and frustration. Rehabilitation and support for the broken families, especially the widows, must be prioritised.

"The negligence of the police must be examined. The truth and those guilty must be brought to justice."

He said, "These are not demands - these are obligations of a democratic government to its people."

Over 3,000 Sikhs across Delhi were killed in the communal frenzy in the days following Indira Gandhi's assassination Oct 31, 1984.

The Sikh community in Canada is traditionally drawn to the main opposition Liberal Party. But the left-leaning NDP is trying to woo them to its side.

To boost its standing in the community, the party also demanded the restoration Punjabi commentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on ice hockey at night.

"We would like to bring to your immediate attention the fact that CBC Television has cancelled the Punjabi broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada. We urge you to reinstate this broadcast for the Punjabi-speaking community across the country," two MPs of the party wrote to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore on Wednesday.

The MPs said, "As are you are aware, CBC initiated the weekly Punjabi broadcast across Canada in 2008. Since then, watching the games has become a household tradition enjoyed by the entire family - from grandparents to grandchildren.

"It is been a bonding experience that also provided new immigrants an opportunity to learn about Canada's favourite sport and get a taste of Canadian culture."