Canadian legislator honoured for standing up for Kashmir and minorities in India

Ravi Kahlon 1

The members of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) presented a medal of courage to a North Delta MLA at his constituency office on Thursday, August 27 for raising the issue of Kashmir with the United Nations and speaking out for justice to the victims of Sikh Genocide.

Ravi Kahlon, who is known for his strong advocacy for human rights and social justice, has written to the United Nations on behalf of his constituents, who had raised concerns about the plight of their relatives in Kashmir, asking for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the disputed region.

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government unilaterally scrapped special rights given to the state of Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, arresting local leaders on the pretext of maintaining public safety.

The right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government claims that the act was necessary to stop terrorism in the only Muslim-majority state of India.

Since then, Kashmir has been turned into an open jail, communication channels such as internet have been shut, and leaders fighting for freedom and autonomy have been detained indefinitely. These include political figures and activists who have been advocating for peaceful resolution of the problem of Kashmir, where people have been struggling for the right to self-determination.

Kahlon has directly written to the office of United Nations’ Human Rights Council Branch, for the second time after October 2019. He hasn’t heard back yet from them, and reminded the UN High Commissioner about the concerns raised by his constituents.

Kahlon shot off his first letter to the UN after meeting with a delegation of people of Kashmiri origin, who were having difficulty in connecting with their relatives back home They remain deeply concerned about human rights abuses in the highly militarized zone.

In 2017, Kahlon read out a statement in the BC legislature asking for justice to the victims of Sikh Genocide. Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all over India during the first week of November, 1984 in a state sponsored massacre following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
He is also vocal about systemic racism in Canada, and recently concluded a BC-wide tour to learn about the first hand experiences of people of colour with bigotry and prejudices. He was instrumental behind the restoration of the BC Human Rights Commission, which was disbanded by the previous Liberal government.

IAPI President Parshotam Dosanjh presented Kahlon with the medal. Among those who joined him on the occasion were prominent Punjabi poet Amrit Diwana, besides other IAPI members Tejinder Sharma, Sandeep Modgil and Gurpreet Singh.

Due to COVID 19 restrictions, everyone, including Kahlon wore masks during the ceremony.




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