Sikh radical activists shouting pro-Khalistan slogans on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar at Akal Takht Sahib, Golden Temple, Amritsar, on June 6, 2016.(HT Photo)
Sikh radical activists shouting pro-Khalistan slogans on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar at Akal Takht Sahib, Golden Temple, Amritsar, on June 6, 2016.(HT Photo)

Pro-Khalistan groups plan event in Canada to mark Operation Bluestar anniversary

Six pro-Khalistan hardline groups are planning to hold a gathering at the seat of Canada’s federal legislature to mark the anniversary of Operation Bluestar.
Hindustan Times, Toronto | By Anirudh Bhattacharyya
UPDATED ON JUN 06, 2017 11:58 AM IST

Half-a-dozen pro-Khalistan hardline groups will gather at Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s federal legislature, on Friday to mark the 33rd anniversary of Operation Bluestar in a revival of such an event after several years. 

In what is being billed as “84 Remembrance Day for Sovereignty”, these groups will collect on the front lawn of the iconic Ottawa landmark, which in itself is symbolic since it houses the Canadian House of Commons and the Senate.

 The event is being held under the banner of the United Front of Sikhs (Canada). While a similar gathering used to take place there in the mid-1980s, it was discontinued several years ago.

One of the principal organisers of the event, Sukhminder Singh Hansra, among the main proponents of Khalistan in Canada, said, “We believe that doing it nationally would have an impact on the whole thing. We would have one universal message as a Sikh nation of Canada.”

Other groups listed as participants include Sikhs for Justice, Ontario Gurdwaras Committee, Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwaras Council and the British Columbia Sikh Council. This commemoration event is being hosted by the Ottawa Sikh Society.

In a statement announcing the event, the organisers said it will mark the “33rd anniversary of Indian Army assault on Sri Darbar Sahib also know as the Golden Temple, where thousands of pilgrims were mercilessly killed by army”.

That, of course, refers to Operation Bluestar, the operation mounted by the Indian Army on June 3, 1984 to flush out Sikh extremists holed up within the Golden Temple in Amritsar. 

While similar events are held each year at gurdwaras and within local communities, taking it to the Canadian capital is one more instance of the pro-Khalistan movement gaining some momentum again in the country. “We came up the idea of the venue of Ottawa. The venue is perfect for a national gathering. We think that message will resonate,” Hansra said.

 Just last week, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, Raj Grewal, made a statement in the House of Commons and described the 1984 operation as a “targeted attack on Sikhism's holiest shrine” which “left a scar in the hearts of Sikhs everywhere”. 

Hansra said those who gather will focus “on the remembrance of those who laid down their lives” in 1984. “We will be remembering those who sacrificed in 1984 and also the victims of 1984. Subsequently we believe sovereignty is what will resolve the situation. No point in asking for justice since the (Indian) government has miserably failed (in this respect).”

While the gathering will take place within the boundaries of the Parliament Hill complex, it will not be located within the buildings that comprise it. Hansra said the organisers had sent out invitations to all members of Parliament to attend the gathering but “haven’t got any confirmations yet”.

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