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1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom Recognize 1984 Riots As Genocide: Canadian MP


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
CHANDIGARH: Sukh Dhaliwal, the Canadian member of parliament of Indian origin, who created a flutter by introducing a petition in Canadian Parliament for recognizing 1984 anti-Sikh riots as 'Sikh genocide', in June last year, is now carrying the same appeal back home. The Canadian government, though, has rejected the demand.

''I would love to see the Indian government acknowledge this. You have a very competent PM, who has a credible image on international scene. Even the leader of ruling party has a very positive image. Both of them should come forward and acknowledge this,'' Dhaliwal, the Liberal MP from Newton-North Delta told TOI here on Saturday evening.

''It is very difficult for Canadian parliament to say whether it was genocide or not, but for me, it was more of a matter of creating awareness,'' Dhaliwal said asserting that petition was filed out of the need to create awareness about human rights rather than simply a community issue.

Asserting that there was no harm in admitting to mistakes, Dhaliwal offered Canada's example, where ''strong human rights'', enshrined in the constitution led to the government offering apology and then commemorating dark spots in history like Kamagata Maru, taxing the Chinese or the Indians (the aboriginals). ''If something happened in 1984 where people were killed just because they were Sikhs, in a pogrom in Delhi, then I think, I am speaking not only as a Punjabi, but as an advocate for human rights.''

'Whatever Dosanj said wasn't true'

Dhaliwal had met the PM in June last year, soon after Manmohan Singh had expressed concern about reports of growing activities of Sikh extremists in Canada. PM's comments came soon after another Canadian politician of Indian origin, Ujjal Dosanj, had expressed his worries on the issue. ''I met him with other MPs and told him that this impression was not correct and whatever Dosanj had said, was not true. After Dosanj's comments, many youngsters approached me to express their anguish. Comments like this diminish all hard work that our elders put in to make their place in that society,'' he said.

'People have still not got justice'

''When I introduced the petition in Canadian Parliament, I faced a lot of opposition from India, from within my own party and some quarters within the community. But my conscience was clear. I am a Canadian, a Sikh, and a very proud Sikh, I knew I had to bring this up. People have still not got justice...,'' he said, adding that the issue had now gained international attention. ''Last evening, people walked up to me in a Ludhiana restaurant and said they wanted to honour me for raising this issue at global level.''

Dhaliwal said India also stood to gain by it. ''India is an emerging super power and many countries, including Canada, want to engage in trade with her. She has to be open on fronts like human rights, child labour and women issues. India must take a leadership role and acknowledge this (genocide). It will not only raise the image of India, but also people like me who were born here and share the same culture and heritage,'' he stated.




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