Vigil Held for Samjhauta Victims in Canada


Despite freezing cold and wind, dedicated community activists showed up at the vigil organized in memory of the Samjhauta blast victims in Surrey on Sunday evening.

On February 18, 2007 a bomb ripped through the Samjhauta rail express killing 68 people, mostly Pakistani Muslims.

The train was started to help the families separated by the Indo Pak division in 1947 to reconnect.

Though the incident had happened on the Indian side of the border, the Indian intelligence had promptly blamed the Pakistan-based Islamic extremists for the crime. However, it was later revealed that this was a handiwork of the Hindu fanatics who want to turn India into Hindu theocracy. Even as one of the conspirators Swami Aseemanand has confessed his involvement before the courts, the current right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government has been trying to shift the blame on the Muslim groups and help save Aseemanand.

Held under the aegis of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) at the famous Holland Park, the vigil was aimed at building international pressure to dissuade the Indian government from giving backdoor amnesty to the perpetrators. Those in attendance were unanimous in their demand that the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is currently on official visit to India must take up this issue with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

The breeze was so strong that the participants could not light 68 candles they had brought to remember the dead on the 11th anniversary of the tragedy.

The vigil was started with special prayers recited by Muslim activist of Gujarati origin Imtiaz Popat.

The famous poet Amrit Diwana read a poem dedicated to the Muslims being persecuted by the Modi government in India.

Barjinder Singh, a Sikh activist who has been very vocal against repression of minorities in India pointed out that the Indian state irrespective of any party in power has always been barbaric against minority communities. He mentioned that how in the past Sikhs were potential target of the police and the intelligence and how the Muslims are now being hounded by the Hindu Right with impunity.

Kesar Singh Baghi, another Sikh activist agreed and stated that the Indian state is known for executing the political dissidents from minority groups in staged shootouts while those involved in Samjhauta blast continue to enjoy the protection of the government.

Ambedkarite activist Rashpal Singh Bhardawaj noted that under Modi government all minority communities, including Dalits or so called untouchables are being tormented almost every day as the present day rulers believe in orthodox Hindu texts that justify caste-based oppression.

Jarnail Singh Artist who made an illustration of Pakistani flag scarred by 68 blood drops representing the victims of the bombing also spoke on the occasion.

Others who addressed the gathering were prominent social justice activist Gurmukh Singh Deol, Marxist activist Hardev Singh, IAPI cofounder Gurpreet Singh and Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians leader Shahzad Nazir Khan, who was the only Pakistani present in the gathering.

The participants also raised slogans against Hindu extremism and growing attacks on minorities in India.


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