Petition on Sikh 'genocide' to be read by Liberal MPs Read more: Petition on Sikh 'genocide' to be read by Liberal MPs The National Post is now on Facebook. Join our fan community today. Megan O'Toole, National Post · Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2010 Two Liberal MPs are to read a petition to the House of Commons today asking Ottawa to formally recognize as "genocide" the 1984 wave of killings in India spurred by former prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination, but the move is dividing both Canadian Sikhs and the Liberal party. The petition, to be read by MPs Andrew Kania and Sukh Dhaliwal, urges Ottawa to call upon the Indian government to "take all reasonable measures to bring all persons responsible for this organized campaign of violence to justice." Petitioners are also staging a memorial near Parliament Hill to honour thousands of Sikhs who died in the November 1984 violence, along with militants killed in the infamous Golden Temple attack months earlier. The timing of the petition, more closely aligned to the June Golden Temple assault and coming weeks before the 25th anniversary of the Air-India bombing, has some observers calling foul. "They want to commemorate [Operation] Blue Star, the attack on the Golden Temple where a lot of terrorists were killed -- so basically the memorial is of the terrorists, not of the victims of November '84," said Balraj Deol, a Punjabi journalist who sent a letter to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff last month decrying the move. "This is a memorial through the back door." In his letter, a copy of which was obtained by the National Post, Mr. Deol suggests elements in the Sikh separatist movement have exerted undue pressure on politicians to move their agenda forward. Jagdish Grewal, editor of the Canadian Punjabi Post, says the genocide petition, which garnered more than 10,000 signatures, does not reflect the opinion of a majority of Sikhs: "Many of the people who have signed on this petition don't even know what has been written." In addition to Mr. Kania and Mr. Dhaliwal, four other MPs are scheduled to deliver statements of support, including Navdeep Bains, Bonnie Crombie, Kirsty Duncan and Gurbax Malhi. None responded to the Post's requests for comment. A few directed queries to Mr. Ignatieff's office, but staff there did not return calls. A week ago, in announcing his plans to introduce the petition -- organized by an advocacy group called Sikhs for Justice-- Mr. Kania said the intent was to achieve closure for "the tragic events that have left such deep wounds within communities." The same day, Mr. Ignatieff publicly denounced the petition, questioning whether the term "genocide" was appropriate in light of contemporary instances, such as Rwanda. "It is used here to provoke a charged, visceral response which will not bring Canadians closer to mutual understanding and closure in regard to these tragic events," Mr. Ignatieff said in a statement, adding his party would "never stand with those who seek to polarize communities, or aggravate the tensions around long-standing conflicts that divided us in other lands." The Liberal leader's statement prompted a backlash from petitioners within the Sikh Activist Network, who suggested his comments displayed an "ignorance" of the 1984 killings. "The actions of the Liberal leader have left Sikh Canadians shocked and feeling puzzled," the group wrote on its website, encouraging readers to embark on a letter-writing campaign. "Our goal is to raise an international awareness on this particular tragedy," Gurpatwant Pannun, legal advisor for Sikhs for Justice, said yesterday. "[J]ustice has not only been delayed, it has been totally denied." firstname.lastname@example.org Read more: Petition on Sikh 'genocide' to be read by Liberal MPs The National Post is now on Facebook. Join our fan community today.