SAN FRANCISCO, California, USA—Sikhs from all over California held a massive rally at the San Francisco Civic Center yesterday. Estimated 10,000 showed solidarity and marched seeking freedom of Punjab, the Sikh homeland. The rally in form of a nagar kirtan was organized to pay tributes to Guru Arjun Dev ji and the 10,000 Sikhs who were killed during the 1984 invasion of Darbar Sahib by the Indian Army.
Punj Pyare and float of Guru Granth Sahib was followed by a display of the decimated Akal Takht Sahib from 1984. A large group of Sikh youth paid tributes to Shaheed Singhs by shouting slogans such as “Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Zindabad, Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar Zindabad, Bhai Gurjant Singh Budhsinghwala Zindabad” throughout the way. They also shouted slogans praising the initiative of Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa. They were behind activists who were carrying five coffins in memory of those have been victimized by the Indian state since 1947.
At the end of the march were a number of activists fully shackled to send a clear message that Sikhs do not tolerate prolonged detention of Sikh political prisoners. Sikhs for Justice put together an impressive display of Referendum 2020 movement, where a large number of activists carried banners and placards. They shouted “Khalistan Zindabad” slogans throughout the way. California Gatka Dal also performed during the nagar kirtan and while speeches were going on. The march started from 2nd and Market Street and ended at the Civic Center, where a number of speakers addressed the congregation.
Professor Indira Prahst from Canada was one of the main speakers at the event. She highlighted the need for Sikhs to commemorate their shaheeds and also spoke about the necessity of freeing the Sikh homeland. Her speech was welcomed by roaring shouts of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” and “Khalistan Zindabad” slogans. Jagmeet Singh, MPP from Ontario, Canada, spoke about his experiences growing up in Canada and highlighted the importance of sharing 1984 with their younger Sikhs.
Dr. Iqtidar Karamat Cheema from UK spoke about the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev Ji and the history of Sikh genocides. Prabhsharanbir Singh, a PhD student from University of British Columbia, spoke about the infiltration of Sikh institutes throughout history and related it to the current struggle of Damdami Taksal and other institutions. Navkiran Kaur, daughter of Shaheed S. Jaswant Singh Khalra, spoke about human rights issues in Punjab and the need for Sikhs to adhere to their unique identity. Dr. Amarjeet Singh from Washington also spoke about various issues. Moninder Singh, a Sikh activist leader from Canada also highlighted sacrifices of a number of recent shaheeds.
A short video clip of S. Jaswant Singh Khalra was also shown to the sangat. A five minute video complication of various short statements by Bapu Surat Singh was also shown. At the very end, the renowned “Jago Wale” Dhadi jatha performed ‘kavishri’.
Entrance by mother of Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara was undoubtedly the most cherished movement at the march. She was accompanied by a large number of Sikhs holding kirpans. As she arrived at the stage, Sikhs rushed towards the front to have glimpse of mata ji. Entire crowd shouted slogans in favor of Jathedar Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara of Babbar Khalsa and slogans such as “Khalistan Zindabad” were echoed again and again.