GENEVA: The Justice Rally held in front of the UN office in Geneva witnessed mammoth participation of Sikhs from across Europe, and even the US and Canada. Those coming from European countries travelled in specially hired buses and their journey ranged from 5 hours to 20, depending on their place of starting the trip.
Around hundred Sikhs travelled down to the rally site in two buses. As their journey took 12 hours, they brought along their langar (food).Baljit Singh Dhesi, who led the contingent, said they started on Thursday night and claimed that there was great enthusiasm in the people to participate in the rally. Several women also attended in the rally. As there are estimated to be less than 500 Sikhs in Switzerland and very few in Geneva, for the locals it was a novel thing — to see so many turbaned Sikhs in front of the UN office. “I have seen few rallies of this size here,” remarked a journalist of a local newspaper while trying to get to the depth of the issue and purpose of the rally.
Satnam Singh, an old man from UK, said their buses took around 18 hours to reach here. “But this cause is very important. I don’t think many options are left but to raise the issue at international level, after perpetual denial of justice by the Indian authorities,” he said.
Tejinder Kaur, a business development manager from Surrey, Canada, travelled all the way here for submission of the petition and to participate in the rally. She also addressed the rally, saying: “I was just 13 years old when this massacre took place and daughter of a senior Indian government official. That was the moment in my life, to discover my identity as a Sikh.” Tejinder emigrated to Canada in 1987.
Harjit Singh Sahota, a young lawyer from Canada and a second generation NRI, claimed that although he had been participating in various activities related to the Sikh issues since his school days, for this issue of November 1984 killings he had been working actively since 2008. Sahota flew in from Canada to participate in the rally and to help to submit the Genocide Petition.
A Swiss resident and Movement Against Atrocities and Repression convener Harminder Singh Khalsa, who hosted the rally along with Sikh Foundation president Karan Singh, said Sikhs from 27 countries of Europe participated in the rally.
SFJ legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who had been touring various European countries for the last few weeks, claimed that this signature campaign has once again focused the Sikhdiaspora on the issue of demanding justice for the victims of the November 1984 killings.
As the rally grew big (going by the standards here), the Swiss authorities remained on alert and local police had to divert traffic with dozens of buses parked alongside the roads near rally site
Originally Published By: TOI