Ontario government recognises 1984 riots as Sikh genocide

The Ontario Assembly set a new precedent by carrying a motion that described the violence against Sikhs in India in 1984 as “genocide.”

The motion was moved by a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) of the ruling Liberal Party of Ontario Harinder Malhi. The Ministry of External Affairs responded to this today with: We have noted the passage of a Private Members Motion in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on April 6. We reject the misguided Motion which is based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and judicial process. Our views have been conveyed to the Government and political leadership of Canada.”

The motion was carried with 34 MPPs voting for and just five against. Those present constituted a third of the Assembly’s total strength of 107.

The government, as the MEA response states, has been in touch with Canada’s Liberal Party government as well as Ministers in Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. However, it was clearly unable to prevent the Motion that now has become the official Canadian government position on the 1984 violence.

A senior Indian official has been quoted in a section of the media as saying that this could have an impact on bilateral ties. The official was quoted as saying, aid, “If they can’t manage their own party…they have to own the responsibility.” MPP was allowed to proceed with the motion, with India coming under attack over “intolerance.”

There is apprehension here that this motion could become open a Pandoras box. More so as Malhi introduced it with the statement that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario should “condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 Genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.” She said that the incidents after then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated could “only be described as genocide.”