Sikh Groups Hold Rally in Ottawa to Mark Anniversary of Operation Blue Star

National Democratic Leader Jagmeet Singh, who had termed the operation a “genocidal campaign” last year, was silent on the occasion


Hardline Sikh organizations in Canada assembled for the “largest rally ever” at Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s government, to mark the 34th anniversary of Operation Blue Star on June 6, the Hindustan Times reported.

The rally, organized by Shiromany Akali Dal Canada (East), was attended by pro-Khalistan groups in front of the building that houses Canada’s House of Commons and Senate. A crowd of nearly 1,000 gathered to mark this day in a significant place, according to the group’s president, Sukhminder Singh Hansra, the report said. Hansra added that Canada was a free land where they could “pledge that we will never forget 1984,” the publication reported.

The event was held with the support of organizations like Sikhs for Justice, Ontario Gurdwaras Committee, Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwaras Council and the British Columbia Sikh Council, and coordinated by the United Front for Sikhs (Canada) group. The committees also organized buses for people from Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton to attend the event in Ottawa.

The chief guest of the rally was Pritam Kaur, widow of Rashpal Singh, the assistant to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The image of Bhindranwale, who is considered an extremist by the Indian government, was displayed on posters in the rally, along with the Khalistan flag.

The rally comes after the intense scrutiny of the Khalistan movement in Canada, following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gaffe-ridden visit to India in February this year, which was marked by an invitation to former pro-Khalistan convict Jaspal Atwal.

New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, who had last year accused the Indian government of initiating a “a genocidal campaign against the Sikh minority beginning with a military invasion of the Golden Temple,” remained quiet on the occasion this year.

Last year, Singh, who was then a candidate for leadership in the National Democratic Party, described June 6 as an “unthinkable day” that saw the “attempt to extinguish the Sikh community.” Singh’s silence this year has been attributed to the criticism he has received in the Canadian media for his appearance at “pro-Khalistan” events. He had been quoted as saying that while he doesn’t condone violence, he is up for peaceful discussion of the issue.

Operation Blue Star was the code name for the Indian army operation that aimed to flush out extremist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his supporters, believed to be hiding arms, from inside the Golden Temple, a holy place for Sikhs, in Amritsar. The three-day operation resulted in 700 casualties, which included 90 armymen, and caused damage to Akal Takht, the seat of the Sikh faith. Operation Blue Star was the beginning of chain of events that led to the assassination of the then Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, and subsequently, the 1984 riots against Sikhs  that rocked New Delhi.

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