35 years later, we stand unbroken

Ontario legislative assembly member Gurratan Singh reflects on the 1984 Indian government attack on the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar and 40 other gurdwaras in Punjab

Gurratan Singh_Canada_1
By Asia Samachar Team | CANADA |

A Sikh lawmaker made a short but poignant reference to 1984 Indian attack on the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar, the most recognised place of worship for Sikhs around the world

Thirty-five years after the Indian government attack, Gurratan Singh told the Ontario legislative assembly that Sikhs ‘stand unbroken’ and ‘will never forget’.

In the speech at the Canadian state assembly, the MPP for Brampton East said the incident which began unfolding on 1 June 1984 was ‘a military invasion into the Darbar Sahib complex in Amritsar, along with more than 40 other gurdwaras throughout Punjab.’

The Darbar Sahib attack was later compounded by the pogrom of Sikhs in November 1984 following the gunning down of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Here, tens of thousands of Sikhs were murdered in India in largely government-sanctioned violence.

In 2017, Ontario became the first legislature in Canada to carry a motion, moved by the then Liberal party member Harinder Kaur Malhi, describing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as genocide.

On 18 May 2019, Gurratan joined fellow Ontarion lawmakers when they voted unanimously to pass a law to recognise the Tamil Genocide Education Week.

In his speech on the floor of the assembly, he noted that trauma was intergenerational which meant that the next generation of Tamils would experience the pain of those before them.

“That is why it is so important to name the Tamil genocide, recognize it and continue to remember it, so the Tamil people can share their memories of those whose lives were lost to make sure their stories are told and to educate the community for generations to come, because we can only heal from trauma once we confront it,” he said.

Here is Gurratan’s full speech on 1 June 2019 marked #NeverForget84 on his social media:

“For the last few days, I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping. All I could think about is what June 1 represents: artillery firing and destroying the sovereign seat of the Sikh people, the Akal Takht; bullets marring the beautiful golden facade of the Harmandir Sahib, the Golden Temple; the blood of thousands of innocents filling the serene pool that surrounds it, the Sarovar; image the terror when, 35 years later to this very day, in June 1984, as Sikhs gathered to commemorate the sacrifice of our fifth Guru, the Indian government launched a military invasion into the Darbar Sahib complex in Amritsar, along with more than 40 other gurdwaras throughout Punjab, killing thousands of innocent worshippers, burning and looting our libraries, all under a complete media blackout.

“Imagine attending a place that was so important to the heart of your religion – your Masjid during Eid, your Church during Christmas, your Mandir during Diwali – that is the time that Indian government chose to attack the Darbar Sahib complex.

“But more than just kill and destroy, in the words of Dr Joyce Pettigrew, the Indian government’s action were “to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.” Well, 35 years later, we stand unbroken, we stand tall and we say, “We will never forget.”

Gurratan is a lawmaker from NDP, a major political party in Canada led by his brother Jagmeet Singh. Gurratan played an instrumental role in Jagmeet’s ascent to MPP and the leadership of the Federal NDP.



Jagmeet Singh makes it to Canadian Parliament (Asia Samachar, 26 Feb 2019)

Jagmeet Singh wins party leadership, now eyes Canadian prime ministership (Asia Samachar, 2 Oct 2017)

Congress leader Sajjan Kumar sentenced to life imprisonment in 1984 Sikh genocide (Asia Samachar, 18 Dec 2018)


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  1. During 1984 after the justified assassination of that lowly woman indira gandhi,gangs of tamil hindu youth of the “malaysian indian congress” party targeted Sikhs and some of my relatives had stones pelted at their cars in Kuala Lumpur and they had to drive for cover at nearby police and fire stations. At least 1 Sikh man in Silibin,Ipoh was beaten up by a gang of tamil hindus and they removed his turban and cut his hair.

    When tamil hindus themselves assassinated rajiv gandhi a few years later,they faced no repercussions whatsoever.