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Canada Canadian Immigration Report: Inspired By China, India Seeks $143M

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    The Punjab state government in India is seeking close to $150-million from Canada for turning back a shipload of South Asians, mostly Sikhs, from Vancouver nearly a century ago.

    During the 1914 incident, more than 350 passengers from India — Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus — were not allowed to disembark from the Komagata Maru ship and sent back to Kolkata.

    Punjab Minister for Tourism and Cultural Affairs Hira Singh Gabria has told the Hindustan Times that Sikhs aboard the ship were made to deposit $15,000 as “entry tax” in 1914 — part of Canada’s racist immigration exclusion laws at the time.

    Despite the deposits, the Sikhs were not allowed to enter Canada.

    The 376 Indian immigrants, mostly Sikhs, sat for two months in the Vancouver Harbour before being turned back.

    When they returned to India, they were stopped by British forces. Twenty were killed and others were injured when gunfire broke out.

    Now an 11-member team of Sikh scholars and legal experts in Punjab has been entrusted with the task of “researching and studying” the subject so that the state government can initiate legal and diplomatic proceedings to get back the amount, which is now believed to have swelled to a whopping $143-million, The Hindustan Times reported.

    The team is led by Kirpal Singh Badungar, the former chief of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which is the Sikh parliament responsible for the upkeep of Sikh places of worship.

    The committee has also been told to trace descendants of all passengers who were subjected to torture and brutality before they were sent back to the Kolkata harbour.

    In 2008, the B.C. legislature apologized unanimously for the incident.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper also tendered a public apology for the incident, but some segments of the Sikh community in Canada felt it was not enough as it was not made on the floor of the House of Commons.

    The Punjab minister for tourism and cultural affairs told The Hindustan Times that the state government took the decision to undertake the “treasure hunt” after a delegation comprising kin of Sikhs on the Komagata Maru who were gunned down after being sent back to India, met the Punjab Chief Minister recently.

    The delegation had told the Punjab government that the money deposited as entry tax was still lying unused in Canada.

    “The committee will initiate the process for recovery of the money, which, once obtained, would be utilized to fund Komagata Maru memorials in Punjab and Kolkata,” said Gabria.

    Gabria said the committee had been given a month’s time to wrap up its preliminary findings.

    “Once the findings establish the facts, the state government will raise the issue with [Indian] Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to press him to use diplomatic channels with his Canadian counterpart.”

    The bid for the money follows recognition by The World Sikh Organization of Canada for NDP leader Jack Layton, who recently presented a petition in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to officially apologize for the 1914 Komagata Maru tragedy.

    The Canadian government has spent $243,625 of tax dollars to educate Canadians about the Komagata Maru incident.

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