New Delhi: India on Saturday appreciated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gesture of apologising in the House of Commons in Ottawa for the infamous Komagata Maru incident of 1914.
“We welcome and deeply appreciate the gesture of Prime Minister of Canada to deliver a formal apology in the House of Commons for the Komagata Maru incident,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement.
“The Indian diaspora in Canada has contributed immensely to Canada’s growth and development and acts as a bond between our two nations. Prime Minister Trudeau’s gesture constitutes an acknowledgment of the positive role of the Indian diaspora,” he said.
The Komagata Maru was a Japanese ship that was hired by a rich Malaysia-based Sikh, Baba Gurdit Singh, to bring 376 Indians, mostly Sikhs, to Canada to challenge the racist laws of the time in 1914.
Since both India and Canada were British dominions at that time, the Indians should have had the right to enter Canada. But the Canadian government of that time put in place various clauses in laws to bar Indians from entering Canada.
The Komagata Maru, which entered Vancouver harbour on May 23, 1914, was forcibly sent back to India after two months. On reaching Budge Budge in Calcutta in September 1914, the passengers were subjected to firing by British Indian police in which 19 of them were killed.
In his apology in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Trudeau said: “Canada’s government was, without question, responsible for the laws that prevented these passengers from immigrating peacefully and securely. For that, and for every regrettable consequence that followed, we are sorry.”
In his statement on Saturday, Swarup said that Trudeau’s gesture reflected “Canada’s commitment to the values of pluralism and multiculturalism, which India fully shares”.