The Surrey City Councillor whose efforts led to the recognition of state sponsored massacre of Sikhs in India was presented with medal by members of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India on Tuesday, November 10.
Mandeep Nagra was instrumental behind the Sikh Genocide Remembrance Month proclamation read out by Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum on Monday night.
Thirty-six years after the well-organized violence against Sikhs all over India, the City of Surrey has officially declared November 2020 as “Sikh Genocide Remembrance Month”.
Thousands of innocent Sikhs were slaughtered by political goons following the assassination of then-prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards at her official residence on October 31, 1984.
In the first week of November that year, close to 3,000 Sikhs were murdered in the national capital of New Delhi alone by mobs supported by the police.
Sikhs in Canada have been holding commemorative events and an annual blood drive in memory of the victims every year during the month of November.
This has been a longstanding demand of Sikhs, who have a sizeable population in Surrey.
On Tuesday, IAPI President Parshotam Dosanjh presented Nagra with the Radical Desi medal of courage at a brief event held at Channel Punjabi studios in Surrey. The medal was established by Radical Desi online magazine, which covers alternative politics and remains a media partner of IAPI.
Nagra was honoured for standing up for human rights and bravely advocating for the proclamation, which was opposed by right wing pro-India groups. IAPI was formed in response to growing attacks on religious minorities under the currently ruling fascist and intolerant Hindu nationalist regime. It has also kept alive the issue of Sikh Genocide, which began an era of majoritarian violence with impunity in India.
Due to COVID 19 restrictions, the event was planned on a low scale and held in the presence of Channel Punjabi team, besides two other IAPI members, Amrit Diwana and Gurpreet Singh.
Diwana, a progressive Punjabi poet, presented a copy of one of his recent books to Nagra.
Nagra also played a pivotal role in a proclamation in memory of the towering Punjabi human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, who was abducted and killed by the Indian police in 1995.
Human-rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra researched 25,000 extrajudicial killings and cremations involving police in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s.
Khalra was investigating cases of Sikh political activists who were murdered by police in an extra-judicial manner to suppress a movement for the right to self-determination. This year marked the 25th anniversary of his disappearance and murder.
Incidentally, Khalra’s grandfather was aboard Komagata Maru in 1914. At that time, the Canadian government forced this Japanese vessel carrying more than 350 South Asian passengers to leave Vancouver’s harbour and return to India, under a discriminatory immigration policy designed to keep Canada as a “white man’s land.”
Last year, Nagra helped rename a stretch of 75A Street in Surrey as Komagata Maru Way.
Apart from that, he was in the forefront of the drive to encourage Surrey residents to plant 550 trees on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.