TORONTO/NEW DELHI: The Ontario Assembly has passed a motion that recognizes the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India that killed over 2,500 people, as genocide.
The motion was passed 35 to 5 on Thursday. It was moved by Harinder Malhi, an MP from Brampton-Springdale district.
Malhi in her remarks said: “The Legislative Assembly of Ontario should reaffirm our values …and condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world including the 1984 genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs.”
“Today we recognize the human rights, social justice, reconciliation in the events that took place in New Delhi and other cities across India in 1984.”
The province of Ontario is “a place where people see democracy as a way to recognize the past of our neighbors and the violence that took place in 1984 which can only be described as a genocide,” the MP added.
“While we can’t change the events of 1984, we have an opportunity here today to clear the misconceptions that divide the community and the residents of Ontario.”
The motion comes ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s expected visit to India either late this year or early next year, according to the country’s High Commissioner to India Nadir Patel.
The 1984 riots took place in the aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by her two Sikh bodyguards.
India on Friday rejected a motion passed in a Canadian provincial assembly that described the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as a “genocide”.
“We have noted the passage of a private members’ motion in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on April 6,” External Affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.
“We reject this misguided motion which is based on a limited understanding of India, its Constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process,” he said. “Our views have been conveyed to the government and political leadership in Canada.”
There are around 1.2 million people of Indian origin settled in Canada and around 500,000 of them are from Punjab.