Jagmeet Singh faces criticism for pushing Canada’s parliament to give ‘genocide’ tag to 1984 riots
Jagmeet Singh, the leader of New Democratic Party (NDP), has sought to get Canada’s parliament recognise the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India as a “genocide”, leading to criticism from Indo-Canadians for propagating a divisive agenda.
"I think it's the right thing to do. It would be a proper thing to take, not only nationally but I think it's something that is appropriate at the international level as well to make sure this is clarified, that it was not communal violence but was state-organised violence,” Singh said in a statement to the Canadian press.
But Azad Kaushik, president of the National Alliance of Indo-Canadians (NAIC), hit out at Singh for painting events from 1984 in those terms. “Canadians, Indo-Canadians in particular, do not accept Jagmeet Singh's politics of hate and bigotry that has done more harm than good,” he said in a statement.
“Hindus and Sikhs in Canada, like India, are bound with brotherhood and family ties that Indo-Canadians cherish and take pride in. The NAIC supports harmony in the Indo-Canadian community and expects Canadian leaders like Jagmeet Singh to focus on matters that concern Canadians and not to hurt relations between Canada and India,” he added.
Singh invited controversy in Canada recently after videos emerged of him apparently condoning Sikh separatism. The first was from a rally in San Francisco in 2015, where he is shown speaking from a platform with a backdrop of a poster of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, considered the person who birthed Khalistani terrorism in India. Singh’s presence at that “sovereignty” event was compounded by his appearance in a panel in London in early 2016 hosted by a hardline separatist outfit.
Groups like NAIC will oppose any move for such a motion in Parliament, Kaushik said.
“The Indo-Canadian community rejects the demand of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to have the 1984 Sikh riots declared as ‘genocide’ and ‘state organised violence’...Any attempts to consider these as genocide would be contrary to the evidence-based and well-respected judicial decisions. Not only that, such attempts will hurt Canada's relations with a friendly country like India with which great potential for business and trade exists, apart from those in international arena.”
While he was a member of the Ontario provincial parliament, Singh had moved such a motion there in 2016.
That motion had been defeated due to opposition from the ruling Liberal Party.
In 2017, a member of the Liberal Party Harinder Malhi moved a similar motion and recognised Singh while introducing it on the floor of the chamber. That motion was passed and Malhi subsequently elevated to the provincial Cabinet by premier Kathleen Wynne.
The resolution marked the beginning of ties fraying between India and Canada, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to India being adversely impacted by such developments.