The resolution seeks to recognize the massacre of Sikhs in India in 1984 as a “genocide;” gets approved despite all opposition.

The city of Fresno has made history by finally approving the resolution to recognize the Sikh-massacre that happened in 1984 as “genocide.” The proposal had faced a lot of opposition and was the point of a lot of debate and discussion for quite some time. Now that the city council members have approved the tragedy as “genocide,” the Sikh community in Fresno finally feels that their dead have been given the honor that they are due.

The 1984 massacre happened after the then Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. During her tenure, there was a rise in tensions between the Indian Government and the Sikhs as the latter felt that they were being mistreated by the government. A militant group took charge to champion the rights of the Sikhs and this group was termed as a terrorist group by the government. Eventually, this conflict led to Gandhi sending the army to storm the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holiest shrine for the Sikhs, to capture the militants who were allegedly hiding there. This made all the Sikhs turn against her completely and eventually led to her assassination. Her murder spurred a series of targeted and planned attacks on Sikhs by her supporters and the death toll reached close to 3000, the majority of this number being in Delhi.

The Sikh communities in California have been trying to get this massacre be counted as a “genocide” and this proposal was first placed by Fresno Council Member Oliver Baines. Ironically, however, opposition to this proposal came from two Indians, Sudarshan Kapoor and Rama Kant Dawar, who claim that this massacre is not a tragedy that has reached genocide levels and that the information given is “one-sided and inaccurate.” Ever since, the two have faced the ire of the Sikhs and have been banned from speaking at their public gatherings.

The resolution on the proposal was supposed to have been announced this January. However, it was taken back at the request of Kapoor and Dawar, who said that this massacre was not similar to the Holocaust or the Armenian genocide and its declaration as a genocide should be reconsidered.

Despite these obstacles, the resolution has finally met with approval on the first of September. Five out of the seven City Council Members of Fresno City Council indicated their support for the resolution while the remaining two members abstained. The approval was cheered by the 500 Sikhs who gathered to wait for the Council’s decision.

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