Scroll.In – Ontario passes motion describing 1984 anti-Sikh riots as ‘genocide’, India dismisses move

The central government has rejected the ‘misguided’ motion, said MEA Spokesperson Gopal Baglay.

Toronto, 7 April 2017. India on Friday rejected a motion passed by the Ontario Legislative Assembly describing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as “genocide”, reported PTI. The motion, which was moved on Thursday, was passed with 34 Members of Provincial Parliament voting in favour and only five against it.

“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,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said. The Centre’s views on the motion have been conveyed to the Canadian leadership, he added.

The motion was passed by MPP Harinder Malhi belonging to the ruling Liberal Party of Ontario. The motion said the Legislative Assembly of Ontario should seek to condemn all forms of violence, hatred, prejudice, racism in India and other parts of the world, “including the 1984 Genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India”.

Several Sikhs, who had gathered in the gallery of the Legislative Assembly, cheered and shouted slogans as the motion was passed, ANI reported.

The riots had broken out on 1 November 1984, after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. During the riots, as many as 2,433 people had died in Delhi alone.

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CBC News – Kaur Project explores diverse identities of Sikh women in the Lower Mainland

Many Sikh women have taken the name Kaur as a statement of independence from their male family members

Anna Dimoff

Vancouver, 19 February 2017. Two Vancouver women are harnessing the feminist origins of the traditional surname Kaur to give voice to Sikh women in the Lower Mainland.

The Kaur Project profiles Sikh women through portraits and first person narratives.

The creators, photographer Saji Kaur Sahota and writer Jessie Kaur Lehail, developed the website to share the untold stories of power and resilience from women who have accepted the name Kaur.

“We wanted to do something that was creative but had a theoretical framework behind it and really to showcase the diversity of Kaur and Sikhism in general,” Lehail told On The Coast guest host Belle Puri.

The name was meant to be an equalizer, allowing women to live their lives without the influence of their fathers or husbands, explained Lehail.

Mapping untold stories

Sixty women have shared their stories with the pair so far, but Lehail says that it wasn’t easy to get there. Many of the women they asked were puzzled at first and didn’t quite understand why they were being asked about the name they adopted.

“I believe it’s because no Kaur has ever been asked, ‘what’s your story?’ Then to have your picture taken and your story told, it’s a little intimidating.”

Each woman’s name is followed by a quick description using identifiers like “warrior,” “survivor and mom,” “poetess” and “healer.”

“It’s kind of interesting the titles that we give these Kaurs. We don’t identify them, when I interview them over the phone that’s the first question I ask; how do you identify yourself?

“Usually they don’t have an answer and as we go through our 20-minute interview session. I ask them the same question again and they are usually able to identify themselves, which is such a beautiful and empowering ability to have.”

Inspiration in diversity

Lehail has been inspired by many of these stories but also feels the weight of the task that she and her partner are taking on. Every story she hears reminds her that there are ten more waiting to be told.

One recent interview that has stuck with her was with a woman who had lost her mother to cancer. She told Lehail that it took two years to even talk about her mother after she passed.

“So this girl, last fall, did a beautiful cancer memorial shaving of her head*. It was there she discovered how her features look like her mother,” said Lehail.

The experience of interviewing this diverse intersection of women has been a cathartic experience for Lehail and she says it has allowed her to discover more about her own identity as a Kaur.

“I think as a South Asian woman, as a Canadian, as a Sikh. As someone who works, who has her own business, I have so many identities. And I think as a daughter of immigrants you kind of grapple, and you’re supposed to have these hyphenated identities but really you could be anything and everyone.

“It’s been very interesting to see that you can have all these multilayers and identify on so many levels.”

The encouraging words of her mother, “you can learn something from every person you speak to,” ring in her mind as she continues to grow this project.

* Patients undergoing chemotherapy against cancer often lose their hair, Man in Blue – 1985 Air India bombings: Canada frees lone Sikh immigrant convict

Although the parole board has allowed Inderjit Singh Reyat to return to a normal life, it has barred him from undertaking any political activity.

The Parole Board of Canada has set free a Sikh immigrant from India who was convicted in the 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people. Inderjit Singh Reyat is the only person convicted in the case.

He was found guilty of making bombs that were stuffed into luggage and planted on two planes departing from Vancouver, and of perjury, reported AFP.

Although Reyat was released from prison a year ago, he was ordered to live in a halfway house. The parole board has now lifted that condition. Board spokesperson Patrick Storey told AFP that Reyat can now lead a normal life, “living in a private residence”. Reyat had been in jail for two decades.

However, his parole officer has already decided with whom he will live so that there is no chance of any “negative influence on him”. The parole board has also barred him from establishing any contact with families of the blasts victims. He cannot undertake any political activity and also has to undergo counselling.

On June 23, 1985, all 329 people aboard Air India Flight 182 were killed when a bomb in it exploded near the Ireland coast. The second bomb killed two baggage handlers in Japan’s Narita airport.

Investigators found out that Reyat had bought dynamite, batteries and detonators when he was working as a mechanic in Canada. Two others, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, were also accused of conspiring the explosions.

However, they were acquitted because of lack of evidence. It was believed that the explosions were planned to avenge Operation Blue Star in Amritsar’s Golden Temple.

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BBC News – Ottawa launches inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women

Ottawa, 3 August 2016. Canada has launched an investigation into missing and murdered indigenous women that will cost nearly C$14m (£8m) more than expected.

Five independent commissioners will provide recommendations to deal with violence against the country’s indigenous women.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett announced the inquiry at an emotional ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec.

The inquiry will last at least two years and cost up to $53.8m (£30.8m).

Though the federal government has launched the commission, each province has agreed to allow the commissioners to look at all jurisdictions, including whether local law enforcement or governments played a part.

The commission will also have the authority to summon witnesses to testify.

The investigation is expected to focus on the systemic causes of violence against indigenous women as well as recommendations on prevention.

A 2015 United Nations report revealed that young indigenous women in Canada were five times more likely to die under violent circumstances than non-Aboriginal women.

Families of victims have argued that police do not investigate missing indigenous women with the same scrutiny for cases involving white women.

The five commissioners are Marion Buller, British Columbia’s first female First Nations judge; Michele Audette, a former president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada; Qajaq Robinson, a Nunavut-born lawyer who focuses on aboriginal law; Marilyn Poitras, a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan; and Brian Eyolfson, a First Nations lawyer who served on the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The investigation is set to begin in September and will run through 31 December, 2018.

The Tribune – Canadian Sikh takes off turban to save girl from drowning

Toronto, 30 June 2016. A quick-thinking Sikh man is being hailed as a hero in Canada after he saved a teenage girl from drowning by using his turban to pull her out of a frigid river.

Avtar Hothi, a 65-year-old farmer from Kamloops, British Columbia, used his turban to save the teen who had fallen into the cold waters of North Thompson River close to his farm.

Hothi and his son Paul were working at their family farm in Heffley Creek, just north of Kamloops, last Saturday when they heard cries for help.

They rushed to the riverbank to see a young woman struggling to stay afloat in the strong current.

“I’m very proud of him,” Paul said referring to his father. “We were trying to look around for branches, and he just sprung to action, took off his turban right away, threw it in the water and pulled her to shore,” Paul was quoted as saying by CBC News.

He said the girl was about 14 or 15-years-old. Paul said he does not know how she fell into the river, but stated that the water was very cold this time of year.

“She was just in shock at the moment we pulled her out of the water. She was freezing basically. We quickly covered her up with a blanket to warm her up,” Paul said.

“We used his turban as a rope because it would have been a lot harder just to pull someone up off shore,” Paul told The Canadian Press. (PTI)

The Hindustan Times – 36 blacklisted Sikhs get ‘ticket to India’ as Modi lands in US

Gurpreet Singh Nibber

Chandigarh, 1 April 2016. Coinciding with the US visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday took 36 Sikhs off its “black list”, which will allow them to come home to the country they fled during terrorism days in Punjab.

Most of these expatriates who took political asylum abroad still have families in Punjab. “It is good news for them that they can now meet their brothers and sisters back home,” said New York’s Richmond Hill gurdwara chairman Mohan Singh Khattra.

To come back, they require visa from where they have been living for the past 30 to 35 years. The list kept secret until the early 2000 got importance when the expatriates and political leaders started raising their voice.

It’s from Belgium that Modi landed in the US, where he will also meet the Sikhs who on his last visit had asked him to resolve the blacklist issue and let them travel to India. The PM will next go to Saudi Arabia.

No clarity yet

The Centre has not disclosed the names struck off the list, which has cause confusion, since different organisations are circulating different lists. There is no clarity on even the number yet.

These blacklisted Sikhs have been living in the US and Canada in North America; and the UK, France and Germany in Europe. The Indian embassies and high commissions will use gurdwara announcements to make the Sikh diaspora aware of this relaxation.

The “blacklisted” Sikhs include top Khalistan promoters, former militants, those connected to the ideology without a criminal record, and those who sought political asylum contending threat to their lives from the Indian authorities. Most of them fled India in the 1980s and 1990s.

The list segregates those with no criminal record, those wanted in terror cases, and whose identity was never established.

Radicals’ plan goes for toss

The relaxation may have taken the steam out of the plan of radical elements in the US to protest against Modi during his ongoing visit.

The Punjab government, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), and Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (an offshoot of Hindu radical organisation Rashtriya Swyamsewak Sangh) have been pursuing the issue with the Centre for the sake of including the blacklisted Sikhs in the mainstream.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and other leaders from the state have also raised the matter with the PM and before that with the last Congress government. The issue is put before every political delegation on foreign visit.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which runs the Punjab government in coalition with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is going to benefit from the move in the assembly elections due next year. It will allow them to bounce back from last year’s Panthic crisis.

Vancouver-resident Ripudaman Singh Malik, who faced a long trial in the 1985 Air India bombing case and was acquitted by the Canadian court, is reported to be major beneficiary, as nine members of his family and he have been taken off the black list. “I am yet to get formal communication on the blacklist clearance. I want to visit Punjab and the Golden Temple,” Malik told Hindustan Times over telephone.


The Amrik Singh Gill I know lives in the UK
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