Canadian PM to apologize for rejection of Sikh people in 1914

Updated: 2016-04-12 10:45


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Canadian PM to apologize for rejection of Sikh people in 1914

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a Vaisakhi celebration on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, April 11, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that he will offer a full apology for a government decision in 1914 to deny entry of Indian Sikh people.

"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," said Trudeau.

"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 the Punjab region of India aboard. Most of them were Sikh people.

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 Monday that he is "truly honored" by Trudeau's commitment to a formal apology.