Komagata Maru incident a ‘dark chapter’ in Canada’s history, says PM Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA, May 23 : Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday termed the tragic Komagata Maru incident as a “dark chapter” in the country’s history and asked Canadians to work together to build a better, fairer, and more inclusive country for everyone.
  “One hundred and ten years ago, the steamship Komagata Maru docked in Vancouver’s harbour after a long journey across the Pacific Ocean. Aboard the ship, 376 people – Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus of Punjabi origin – were ready to start a new life in Canada. But instead of being welcomed as newcomers, they were refused entry by Canada,” Trudeau said in a statement.
Recalling their ordeal, the prime minister said that passengers of Komagata Maru, a Japanese steamship, were detained for two harrowing months in 1914 without food, water, or medical care. Ultimately, the Komagata Maru was forced to return to India where many of its passengers were killed or imprisoned.
“This tragic incident is a dark chapter in our country’s history,” said Trudeau, who had apologised on behalf of the Government of Canada eight years ago for what happened to the passengers of the Komagata Maru.
He said that the deplorable treatment of those on board was reflected in Canada’s racist and discriminatory laws of the time and “we must never allow this event to repeat itself.”
On this day of remembrance, Canadians reflect on the importance of promoting diversity and treating everyone with respect and dignity.
“In the years since this tragedy, we have come a long way as a country to build a more inclusive, welcoming society for people of all backgrounds. And through initiatives like our Anti-Racism Strategy, we are removing barriers, so that everyone in Canada can reach their full potential,” Trudeau, whose utterances on the Khalistan issue have nearly derailed Canada-India relations, said.
“Today, we remember and honour the lives lost in the Komagata Maru incident. As we pay tribute to the victims, I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the invaluable contributions that members of the South Asian community have made, and continue to make, to Canada. Let’s keep working together to build a better, fairer, and more inclusive country for everyone,” he added. (PTI)