Manmeet Singh Bhullar served as a cabinet minister in Canada from 2011 until the defeat of the Progressive Conservative government in 2015.
He was widely seen as a rising star in Canadian politics.
It was only a few weeks ago when I heard his inspiring speech on the November 84 genocide below.
Legislative Assembly of Alberta First Session – Second Sitting 29th Legislature November 2nd, 2015 Member Statement Manmeet Bhullar, MLA Calgary – Greenway
See full transcript below:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about an event which still haunts the international Sikh community.
On October 31, 1984, Indira Ghandi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards as retaliation for a government attack on the Golden Temple.
After her assassination waves of anti-Sikh genocidal violence lasted for days throughout India. Official reports claim 3,000 Sikhs were murdered, while unofficial reports cite the number as being upwards of 8,000.
I want to speak of the story of 45 year old Gurdeep Kaur. The 45 year old mother witnessed her three sons and husband being dragged out of their home, beaten and then set ablaze.
However, Gurdeep Kaur was not through her agony. She then continues to say, and I quote, “they tore my clothes and stripped me naked in front of my son. My son cried, elder brothers do not do this. She is your mother just as she is my mother.
She continues, but they raped me right there in front of my son, in my own house. They were young boys, maybe eight of them.” Former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, apologized in 2005 to the Sikh community. But he too recognized, we all know that we still do not know the truth. Many Sikhs feel that justice has not been served and senior figures complicit in the attacks need to be brought to justice.
Unfortunately, 1984 was not the end of the hardship for Sikhs in India. Over the following decades thousands more Sikhs were abducted, tortured, and murdered by the state. One such person was human rights activist, Jaswant Singh Khalra, a member of a research team investigating the plight of people who “disappeared” at the hands of the state in the 1980’s and early 90’s.
Mr. Khalra was “arrested’ by Punjab police in September 1995, and has not been heard from since. In a speech Khalra delivered in Canada just months before his abduction, he sated he has discovered 6,017 bodies which had been illegally cremated in three towns in the Amritsar district.
Both Mr. Khalra and these 6000 victims have not yet received justice. It was Rajev Ghandi, who said, in reference to the anti-Sikh violence, “when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.” Well sir, thousands of mighty trees have fallen and 31 years later the entire world still shakes a little.”