British Sikhs tell new British Prime Minister Theresa May to give an apology in Parliament, like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did for the shameful Komagata Maru tragedy, before the 100th anniversary of the British massacre of Sikhs at Jallianwala Bagh on 13 April 1919.
LONDON – In April 2016 a speech was delivered by Dabinderjit Singh, an adviser to the Sikh Federation (UK), at a Vaisakhi event in Parliament on the significance of the Khalsa.
In that speech a reference was made to what Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, had just announced on the occasion of a Vaisakhi event in Parliament Hill in Ottawa. He said that on 18 May 2016 he would make a full apology in the House of Commons for the Komagata Maru incident from 1914 when over 350 passengers – nearly all Sikhs and British subjects – were denied entry, starved of food and water for two months with the ship eventually being forced to return to India.
Trudeau did just that in May to the delight of the worldwide Sikh-Indian community.
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May delivers her keynote address on the second day of the Conservative party annual conference in Manchester, northern England September 30, 2013.
British Sikhs now want the new British Prime Minister Theresa May to give an apology in Parliament, like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did for the shameful Komagata Maru tragedy, before the 100th anniversary of the British massacre of Sikhs at Jallianwala Bagh on 13 April 1919.
In 2013 David Cameron visited Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar where on the occasion of Vaisakhi on 13 April 1919 soldiers of the British Indian army fired at more than 10,000 unarmed men, women and children who had gathered. During his visit he described the Amritsar massacre as "a deeply shameful event in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as monstrous. We must never forget what happened here and we must ensure that the UK stands up for the right of peaceful protests”.
Dabinderjit Singh pointed out on 13 April 2018 it will be 100 years since the massacre by British soldiers in Amritsar. The minimum the worldwide Sikh community deserved was an apology by the British Prime Minister in Parliament.
Greg Clarke, the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) at that time listened carefully to the full speech and nodded to acknowledge the demand. DCLG and Foreign Office officials were reminded at a meeting last week on the need to make progress on this issue. The response so far has been generally agreeable to the suggestion.
Bhai Amrik Singh in his speech at the National Sikh Convention mentioned it was made all the more painful as the Amritsar massacre of 1919 came within months of the end of the First World War where Sikhs had made sacrifices in huge numbers for the freedom of Europe. The Sikh Federation (UK) wrote to the Foreign Secretary on this matter a week ago to try and accelerate progress on this subject.
The new call for the apology was made at the annual three-day National Sikh Convention organised by the Sikh Federation (UK), which ended earlier this week at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Sedgley Street, Wolverhampton and attracted well in excess of 10,000 Sikhs from across the UK and others parts of the world.
It is the largest political gathering of its kind of members of the Sikh community in the diaspora. The main speeches and a number of key announcements were delivered yesterday.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), delivered the key note speech setting out what the organisation had achieved with respect to delivery against the promises made last year, the organisations key activities and successes over the last 12 months, how it was responding to the challenges that exist and giving direction in a number of key areas.
The audience for the Convention is worldwide so Bhai Kuldip Singh, the Vice Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), spoke about the organisations views about the forthcoming elections in Punjab in 2017. Several UK politicians spoke about some of the ongoing campaigns being championed by the Sikh Federation (UK), achievements during the year where politicians were assisting the organisation and promises on other things that could be delivered.
The Sikh Federation (UK) announced expansion of its leadership and advisory capacity given the growth of the organisation to virtually all regions of the UK and larger presence in many more towns and cities. It also reflects the increasing workload in the UK and abroad with greater demands from the mainstream media and shift in the working relationship with the UK Government.
Some of the key discussion and announcements at the Convention included:
• developing the improved relationship with the UK Government to make progress on challenges faced by British Sikhs
• British Sikh response to a changing political landscape in the UK
• apology from the British Prime Minister in Parliament before the 100th anniversary of the British massacre of Sikhs at Jallianwala Bagh on 13 April 1919
• key achievements in the last 12 months, including the lifting of the ban of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)
• the formation of the International Sikh Governing Council to take forward dealings with foreign governments and international institutions
• developing an understanding and working relationship with like-minded organisations in Punjab
• challenges presented by the Modi-led BJP government and how these are being handled
• observations and advice to voters on elections in Punjab in 2017