Following sustained efforts of Mehak Punjab Dee TV, Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), the BC government has proclaimed April 13, 2019 as “The Commemoration of the Centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre Day”.
Scores of peaceful protestors were killed in an unprovoked firing by the British troops at Jallianwala Bagh public park in Amritsar, India on April 13, 1919.
The demonstrators had gathered in protest against the repressive laws and arrests of the leaders of the passive resistance movement against British occupation of India.
The bloody episode galvanized the freedom movement that culminated in the end of British rule in 1947.
One hundred years later, the BC government has recognized the tragedy, with the Lt. Governor and Attorney General issuing a proclamation, an e-copy of which has been received by IAPI, which initiated the demand on behalf of two other groups, including one led by prominent community activist Sahib Thind who had successfully campaigned for the apology for Komagata Maru.
The Japanese vessel carrying more than 300 South Asian passengers was forced to return by the Canadian government in 1914 under a discriminatory immigration law that was aimed at keeping Canada a “white man’s country”. Thind had started a campaign for a formal apology for that incident, which led to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau making an official apology in the House of Commons in 2016.
Encouraged by the results, Thind has now started efforts to get a similar apology from the British parliament. He recently visited England to lobby for an apology. He has already succeeded in getting a unanimous motion passed in the Punjab state assembly asking the British government for an official apology for Jallianwala Bagh episode.
Likewise, Mehak Punjab Dee TV producer Kamaljit Singh Thind (no relationship with Sahib Thind) had started an online petition seeking a British apology for Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He is also instrumental behind annual vigils that are organized in Surrey in memory of the victims of Jallianwala Bagh incident, and has been organizing exhibitions depicting the tragedy at Vaisakhi parades in Vancouver and Surrey.
Significantly, the proclamation reads, “Whereas, the Government of British Columbia, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, invites the citizens of British Columbia to reflect on this tragedy and learn more about the history and contributions of India Canadians”.
Gurpreet Singh is a Canada- based journalist who publishes Radical Desi- a monthly magazine that covers alternative politics.