After nearly 100 years of the painful incident in the history of Sikh community, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will offer an apology in the House of Commons or lower house of his country's Parliament on May 18th, 2016.
In 1914, the Komagata Maru incident happened in which the Canadian government turned away around 376 immigrants from Punjab who sailed from India after quarantining the ship off Vancouver. After two months the ship was escorted out by gunships and sent back to Calcutta, where clashes with British soldiers killed 19 and ended in prison sentences for the others.
Komagata Maru was a ship hired by Gurdit Singh, a Hong Kong/Singapore-based Sikh businessman, a follower of the Ghadar Party, who wanted tobypass Canadian laws of immigration.
376 Indians, 340 of them Sikhs travelled from Hong Kong to Vancouver in pursuit of better life.
The Canadian PM Trudeau said as a nation Canada should never forget the prejudice suffered by the Sikh community and on May 18 he will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full apology for the incident. For the first time in history a National Leader is standing up for the mistake made in the past by his country and offering a full apology on the behalf of his people to the Sikh community which today stands a strong pillar in the nation’s politics and economy. “The passengers of KomagataMaru, like millions of immigrants since, were seeking refuge and better lives for their families,” Trudeau said, adding “With so much to contribute to their new home, they chose Canada and we failed them utterly”.
“As a nation, we should never forget the prejudice suffered by the Sikh community by the hands of the Canadian government of the day. We should not and we will not,” he added.
Importantly, the Canadian premier has particularly endeared himself to Sikhs in Canada, and has also inducted 4 Sikhs in his cabinet, higher than Sikhs in the Indian cabinet.
The apology pledge was made at a prayer meeting where Trudeau wore a saffron headscarf, which was preceded by a video greeting to Sikhs on the occasion of baisakhi, which ended with the PM greeting them with “Wahe Guruji da Khalsa Wahe Guruji da Fateh”, the traditional Sikh invocation.