California City of Fresno recognises 1984 anti–Sikh riots as “genocide”

Fresno 1984

Fresno City Council formally passed the resolution to recognise 1984 anti-Sikh massacres in India as a genocide on September 1. The council passed a resolution describing the 1984 riots as “genocide and recognised the responsibility of the Indian government in the alleged rape, torture and murder of thousands of Sikhs across India”.

5 out of 7 council members voted in approval, while 2 abstained.  Over 500 Sikhs were in attendance and waited patiently for the council members to vote. A number of local Sikhs and non-Sikhs, including local activists and youth,  spoke before the council members who officially voted.  Parminder Singh, a local businessmen, said, “We appreciate everyone for coming here today, especially the role played by the youth is highly appreciable.  We have a large gathering here today as this is something very important to us.”

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Previously, on April 22, California State Assembly had described 1984 riots as “genocide”. Sacramento area assembly member Jim Cooper had stated, “Although we cannot change the horror of the events of 1984, as an assembly member representing families of genocide victims, I felt it was important that we tell the truth about those events and honour the thousands of victims. Sikhs around the world should know that, here in California, we will always stand against intolerance and will not forget the tragedy of 1984.”

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The resolution was earlier scheduled to be announced on January 14, however, the Fresno City Council took back the proposal after it was compelled by the Indian Consul General from San Francisco.  The proposal was consequently taken back by Fresno city council member Clint Olivier on June 23.  Fresno Bee correspondent Andrew Castillo reported that the Indian consul of San Francisco met with Fresno city council members and convinced them that the proposal recognizing Sikh massacres as a genocide was “inaccurate and one-sided”.