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Indian High Commission’s objections are another attempt to stretch Indian State’s long arm of repression to Canadian soil: CSC

June 22, 2012 | By

Ludhiana (June 22, 2012): Canadian Sikh Coalition (CSC) has showed it’s concern over Indian High Commission’s remarks against NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s statement on Remembering 1984. A news report published on the website of the Globe and Mail revealed certain content of letter said to have been written on June 7 by Indian High Commissioner Mr Gavai objecting to NDP statement. The Sikh Siyasat is reproducing below the letter written by a CSC representative to the Globe and Mail in this regard (on June 22, 2012):-

To whom it may concern:

I write this letter in response to a story written by Steven Chase and published on June 21, 2012 with the headline “Indian government upset over Mulcair’s Golden Temple remarks,” in the hopes that several misconceptions promoted in the article can be clarified.

In the article, Chase describes the Indian High Commissioner, Shashishekhar Gavai’s objection to Tom Mulcair’s message of remembrance and solidarity in commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the military invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex. Mr Gavai’s objections are another clear attempt of the Indian state to stretch it’s long arm of repression to Canadian soil and continue silencing the voices of criticism and dissent – contrary to core Canadian values and beliefs.

There are several problems with the objections raised by Mr. Gavai, including the misconstruction of facts and fallacious statements.

Firstly, Mr. Gavai describes the targeted killings of Sikhs in November 1984 all over India as “a horrific manifestation of mob violence” clearly overlooking the fact that the targeted killings of Sikhs occurred not only with the complicity of various levels of the state and administration but were organized and orchestrated by them as well.

According to a report published by The People’s Union for Civil Liberties and the People’s Union of Democratic Rights, “the attacks on the members of the Sikh community in Delhi… far from being spontaneous expressions of ‘madness’ and of ‘grief and anger’ at Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination, as made out by the authorities, were the outcome of a well organized plan marked by acts of both deliberate commission and omission by important politicians of the Congress and by authorities in the administration…”

Secondly, Mr. Gavai misconstrues the military invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex as a last resort to “neutralize terrorists who had taken control of the Temple complex and who were responsible for the cold blooded killings of hundred of innocents…” This unsubstantiated claim is not only false but dangerous as it grossly misrepresents the facts surrounding the military action. Mr. Gavai’s claim that the alleged “terrorists” had taken control of the complex and were responsible for the “cold blooded killings of hundreds…” is malicious misinformation aimed at maligning civil rights activists and justifying an atrocious military act.

This fallacious claim blatantly overlooks the reckless nature of the operation as well as the fact that all viable alternatives were overlooked.

During the course of the action, the military employed the use of helicopters and tanks resulting in the complete destruction of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib and significant damage to surrounding buildings. Though official sources tried to claim that less than 500 people were killed in the operation, eye witnesses mark the number closer to 5,000.

Observers like academic Joyce Pettigrew have noted that the attack took place not for the proclaimed reasons of “neutralizing terrorists,” but that the reality was far from it. According to her “the army went into the Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”

Since the invasion, the state has been exposed by many of it’s own proponents, such as former MP, Subramaniam Swami, and Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha, who revealed that not only had the state indulged in a mass propaganda campaign to justify the unnecessary action but that the action itself had been planned and rehearsed years before it took place.

The issue of sustained, targeted violence against the Sikhs and other minorities in India is a very painful and relevant issue for Canadians today who value liberty, equality, social justice, and human rights. Not only because countless Canadians still bear the trauma of the atrocities after continuously being denied reconciliation and victimhood, but because – as expressed by Mr. Mulcair – we have an obligation to ask why and seek honest answers on behalf of our citizens.


Moninder S. Bual,
Canadian Sikh Coalition.

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