The passage of a resolution by a government entity, be it a city, state or national level, is usually a cause for jubilation by all concerned.
But when the Lathrop City Council approved one at the last meeting, Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal made a somber request to the audience before presenting the resolution to representatives of the group that packed the council chambers.
“Please do not clap because this is a sad history that we’re dealing with, and people are still looking for justice,” he said before stepping down to the podium below to present the framed copy of the just-approved council resolution recognizing “the November 1984 anti-Sikh violence in India as “genocide” to the group of Sikh leaders that included Tejpaul Singh Bainiwal of Weston Ranch, a recent criminal justice graduate who is now on his way to law school.
The purpose of the resolution is to encourage the “leaders of the free world” to promote peace and justice, and to “pressure the Indian government to give justice for the (Sikh) people,” said Dhaliwal, a Punjabi native and a Sikh.
The resolution states that the “Nov. 1984 violence against Sikh lives, properties and places of worship throughout India was carried out with intent to destroy the Sikh community and was thus ‘Genocide’ as defined under the laws of the United States and the 1948 UN Genocide Convention,” and that the “continuing gross human rights violations committed against religious minorities in India” be condemned.
The resolution further states that the mayor and city council “request the United States of America and the republic of India (to) prosecute those who committed acts of genocide in November 1984 against Sikh lives, properties and places of worship.”
Members of the area’s Sikh community filled the council chambers to overflowing, with those standing along the walls holding placards with messages that read “India Committed Genocide,” “3 Days 30,000 Murdered,” “Free Punjab End Indian Occupation.”
One of the speakers who addressed the council before the resolution vote was a woman who recounted the horror that she had witnessed during the deadly purging of Sikhs in India in 1984. Serving as translator for the speaker who spoke in her native language was Singh Bainiwal.
During the 10-minute recess following the resolution presentation and picture taking, the mayor announced that everyone was invited to join the Sikh group for refreshments outside the entrance to City Hall.
Below is the resolution that was adopted:
uSikhism is the world’s 5th largest religion with more than 26 million followers;
uin the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination on Oct. 31, the then ruling party of India, Indian National Congress organized and carried out through its workers, supporters and sympathizers, violence against the Sikh population throughout the country;
uthat the violence against the Sikhs continued unabated for several days in more than 100 cities across India resulting in thousands of Sikhs killed; thousands of women raped; hundreds of Gurudwaras (Sikh Temples) burnt and more than 300,000 Sikhs displaced;
uIn 2011, a mass grave of Sikhs in village Hondh-Chillar, state of Haryana was unearthed and several similar graves, ruined villages, burned Gurudwaras and other traces of Sikh population annihilated during Nov. 1984 in the states of Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, and;
uUS laws and UN Genocide convention defines attack with an intent to destroy in whole or in part, a religious or ethnic community’ to be Genocide;
u18 USC Section1091 and ‘Genocide Accountability Act of 2007’ make the crime of Genocide committed anywhere and anytime, punishable by the US Courts;
Now therefore be it resolved the mayor and city council of the City of Lathrop formally request the United States of America and the Republic of India to prosecute those who committed acts of genocide in 1984 against Sikh lives, properties and places of worship.”