Sacramento-Area Assembly Members Sponsor Resolution Recognizing 1984 Sikh Genocide

April 18, 2015 | A resolution co-sponsored by Assembly Member Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) recognizing the 1984 Sikh Genocide, was pa...


April 18, 2015 |

A resolution co-sponsored by Assembly Member Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) recognizing the 1984 Sikh Genocide, was passed by the California State Assembly this week.

That resolution, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 34, introduced by Cooper, Assembly Members Ken Cooley (D - Rancho Cordova) and Kevin McCarthy (D - Sacramento), addresses the November, 1984 murder of at least 3,000 Sikh followers in India. 

The resolution states “[Indian] government and law enforcement officials organized, participated in, and failed to intervene to prevent the killings.” Further, remarks on the floor of the Assembly declared that the atrocities were a "genocide" since it "resulted in the intentional destruction of many Sikh families, communities, homes, and businesses."

“Although we cannot change the horror of the events of 1984, as an Assembly Member representing families of genocide victims, I felt it was important that we tell the truth about those events and honor the thousands of victims," Cooper said. "Sikhs around the world should know that, here in California, we will always stand against intolerance and will not forget the tragedy of 1984.”

The Genocide came in the aftermath of the October 31, 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi  and the Indian government's Operation Bluestar. That operation, which started earlier that year was meant to suppress Sikh calls for equality in India that stemmed from the document called the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. The resolution called for, among other things, abolition of India's caste system.

"This resolution is the first time that any nation or government has officially declared that the government of India was responsible for the slaughter of its own Sikh citizens across the country in November 1984," Amar Shergill, attorney and American Sikh PAC board member said. "Indian officials and police officers led the way in the rape, torture and murder of thousands of Sikhs just a few miles from the prime minister’s residence. Even today, Christians, Muslims, Dalits and Sikhs are at risk. The time has come for the Indian government to admit its culpability and make a commitment to protect all of India’s minority communities.”

A survivor of the genocide, Dr. Gurpreet Singh Chahal, of Elk Grove, said as a young student at the time, he was able to escape the attacks and live to tell of the horrors. Chala noted "The government, police and army did not protect us and were often leading the genocide."

"I am so thankful to God and this country for giving me safety, security and freedom of religion," Chahal said. "Perhaps, one day, the government of India will admit that they are responsible for so much pain, torture and death." 

 

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