3 Canadian cities dedicate Sept 6 to slain rights activist Jaswant Khalra

Updated on Aug 31, 2020 04:17 AM IST
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AMRITSAR | By, Amritsar

The councils of three key Canadian cities — Burnaby, New Westminster and Brampton — have proclaimed September 6 as ‘Jaswant Singh Khalra Day’ to mark the 25th death anniversary of the slain Amritsar-based human rights activist.

The proclamations signed by the respective mayors pay tribute to the rights campaigner who originally belonged to Tarn Taran district’s Khalra village.

“Jaswant Singh Khalra was a strong advocate of democratic and civil rights and a highly respected leader of the Sikh community. He died fighting for human rights and dignity of the Sikhs and others. September 6 is a historically important day recognised by the Sikhs and South Asians all across Canada each year in commemoration of his death in 1995,” reads the proclamation.

It further reads, “The city honours the Sikh history and culture, Jaswant Singh Khalra’s place in South Asian history, and our valued relationship with the Sikh community and its strong commitment to social justice,” it further reads.

Hailing the move of the Canadian cities, his wife Parmjit Kaur Khalra, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Khadoor Sahib segment unsuccessfully, said, “It is matter of great pride for me that other countries are recognising the contribution of my husband to human rights. More Canadian cities are likely to make such proclamations.”

“But in our country, we had to wait for several years to get justice for him. And the work done by him has not been recognised so far in India,” she added.

The Punjab-origin representatives in these municipalities and other councillors reportedly pushed these proclamations, it is learnt. These cities have a considerable population of Punjabis who play a key role in the electoral politics there.

In 2017, the city council of Fresno in California, US, named one of its important parks after Khalra. This park was earlier known as Victoria Park.

Khalra was investigating the extrajudicial killings in Punjab during the militancy period and raised his voice against the same at international level. Some police personnel kidnapped him on September 6, 1995. Earlier that year, he had visited Canada to educate the Punjabi diaspora and Canadian politicians about the human rights situation in Punjab.

As per the verdict of a Patiala court, he was abducted and murdered by the police in cold blood.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Surjit Singh is a correspondent. He covers politics and agriculture, besides religious affairs and Indo-Pak border in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

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