26 July, 2021

Heat From A Flame Afar

Many Sikhs in Canada nurse the wounds of 1984. India must not see them all as separatists.

Heat From A Flame Afar

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mingled with the leaders of G-20 countries, symbolising India’s ascent as a power, a ghost from the past surfaced—the macabre 1984 riots. Out there in the streets of Toronto walked the expatriate Sikhs, demanding justice for the victims and punishment for those who perpetrated the riots. They questioned the democratic credentials of India and petitioned for recognition of the riots as “genocide”. The protest was a rude shock to those who believed the emergence of Manmohan as Indian prime minister must have addressed, in some measure at least, the alienation of the Sikhs in Canada, which was in the ’80s a hotbed of Khalistan separatism.

Quite palpably, the alienation of Sikhs persists—deeply, even bitterly. Ask the five lakh Sikhs who have made Canada their home,  and they will likely lament their inability to forget the riots, which, in their narration, is referred to—justly—as a “genocide” or a “massacre”. And genocide and...

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