THE World Sikh Organization of Canada said on Thursday that it is deeply disappointed by the Ontario Liberal Government’s vote against a motion recognizing the November 1984 attacks on Sikhs as a genocide.
NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh had introduced a Private Members’ Motion reading, “That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should recognize the November 1984 state organized violence perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India as a genocide.”
Despite receiving support from both the NDP and Progressive Conservative caucuses, Ontario’s Liberal Government defeated the motion 40 to 22.
The WSO noted that the 1984 Sikh Genocide, in which thousands of innocent Sikh men, women and children were brutally attacked and murdered across India, was one of the darkest chapters in modern Indian history. The attacks were not spontaneous but had in fact been systematically orchestrated and carried out under the guidance of members of the ruling Congress Party of India. State actors like the police either turned a blind eye to the killings or actively assisted in their execution.
The Government of India’s Nanavati Commission Report acknowledges “but for the backing and help of influential and resourceful persons, killing of Sikhs so swiftly and in large numbers could not have happened.”
Although official reports record the killings of nearly 3,000 Sikhs, unofficial estimates are much higher. Barbara Crossette, a former New York Times bureau chief in New Delhi noted that “almost as many Sikhs died in a few days in India in 1984 than all the deaths and disappearances in Chile during the 17-year military rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990.”
Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has recognized the 1984 attacks on Sikhs as a “genocide” and noted that several persons who had a role in the carnage are yet to be punished.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said: “We are deeply disappointed by the defeat of the motion recognizing the events of November 1984 as a genocide. The ongoing use of the term ‘1984 anti-Sikh riots’ to describe the events of November 1984 is a distortion and wrongly implies unorganized communal violence. The motion introduced by MPP Jagmeet Singh was an important opportunity to hold those who planned and organized orchestrated the massacres responsible and an opportunity for reconciliation and justice.”
WSO Ontario Vice President Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria said, “It’s highly unfortunate that the Ontario Liberal Party worked to defeat a motion of such importance and significance to the Sikh community. Even Indian Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, has acknowledged that the events of November 1984 were genocide. By passing today’s motion, Ontario could have played an important role in moving this issue forward and in the pursuit of truth and justice for the victims.”