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Indo-Canadians form group to counter pro-Khalistan propaganda

The objective of the Harmony Committee, formed in December, is to take “nationwide action to state the facts concerning Sikh riots aimed at bringing harmony in the community”.

world Updated: Jan 25, 2018 20:44 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Canada,Khalistan,Indo-Canadian community
Sikh radical activist rising the pro-Khalistan slogans on the 33rd anniversary of Operation Blue Star at Akal Takht sahib, Golden Temple, Amritsar on 6 June, 2017.(HT File Photo)

Leading Indo-Canadians have formed a group to counter propaganda perpetuated by pro-Khalistan elements in Canada and mailed a letter to elected representatives across the country, putting forward “the facts” about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and how India’s judicial system has addressed the carnage in the years that followed.

The objective of the Harmony Committee, formed in December, is to take “nationwide action to state the facts concerning Sikh riots aimed at bringing harmony in the community”.

“The aim is to check divisive politics,” said Azad Kaushik, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario province and the chair of the group.

The letter outlining these facts has been dispatched to all members of Canada’s Parliament and to members of provincial assemblies across the country.

“Many people would plead ignorance on this matter, so we want to put the facts straight. We have to deal with this issue now,” Kaushik said. Other than the letter, the group has created a website for greater public access to the details they have placed before the politicians.

The letter points out that a sitting Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, himself a Sikh, had offered an apology on the issue in Parliament. It also gives details of the different commissions of inquiry that examined the violence following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi.

“The total number of police officers indicted by the two committees was 147. In all, 3170 people were arrested out of which 442 people were convicted for their participation in the riots in Delhi. In Haryana, 15 people were convicted, and in other states, 13 were convicted,” the letter noted.

The letter also criticised Jagmeet Singh, the recently elected leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and member of the Ontario legislature, Harinder Malhi, (recently elevated to the provincial cabinet) for moving motions that described the riots as “genocide”.

“Justice is finding its way through the Indian legal system. The Supreme Court of India in August of 2017 decided to open up investigations into 341 cases related to the 1984 riots, which were closed and to be reopened, as they were deemed not properly conducted, with the intention of bringing justice to the victims and survivors of the riots,” the letter said.

This move has been partly precipitated by the recent resurgence of pro-Khalistan sentiments in Canada and the resultant fear of a cleavage within the Indo-Canadian community along religious lines.

As the letter said, “We bring these facts to your attention because Sikhs have always been part of the Indo-Canadian community, with excellent relations extending to families amongst us. We do not want personal agendas to break this harmony, peace, and unity.”

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 18:38 IST