Canadian prime minister to apologise for rejecting Sikhs in 1914

Ottawa : Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that he will offer a full apology for a government decision in 1914 to deny entry of Sikhs in the country.

“As a nation, we should never forget the prejudice suffered by the Sikh community at the hands of the Canadian government of the day. We should not and we will not,” Xinhua quoted Trudeau as saying.

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“That is why, next month, on May 18, I will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full apology for the Komagata Maru incident,” he said.

The chartered Japanese ship Komagata Maru sailed into the Vancouver harbor on May 23, 1914, with 376 people from Punjab. Most of them were Sikhs.

The Canadian government refused to allow the passengers to disembark and Komagata Maru sat in the harbor for two months. On July 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru was escorted out to sea by a Canadian naval cruiser and returned to India, where 20 people were killed as they tried to disembark and the others were jailed.

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, who was the first Sikh-Canadian to command a Canadian army reserve regiment, tweeted on Monday that he is “truly honoured” by Trudeau’s commitment to a formal apology.