State Assembly Condemns Anti-Sikh Violence in India from nearly 40 years ago
- Ben Cheever
- Communications Director
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton) supported the California Assembly’s resolution yesterday, AJR 2, authored by Assemblymember Jasmeet Bains to formally recognize the 1984 atrocities against the Sikh population in India as ‘genocide.’
“We cannot turn a blind eye to past injustices and pretend like they have no effect in the world we live in today,” said Assemblymember Villapudua. “These acts of horrific violence and assaults on a population take time to heal from. Part of that healing requires us to acknowledge, call out, and condemn to the fullest extend what occurred. I’m grateful to Assemblymember Bains for allowing us to stand with our Sikh community and do just that.”
The Sikh community began immigrating to the United States over 100 years ago. They have played an important role in the innovations of agriculture and infrastructure, and have woven their culture into the fabrics of our society. Half of the 500,000 Sikhs living in the United States call California their home, and the nation’s first Sikh temple was established in Stockton, CA.
In November of 1984, over the course of just three days, a state-sponsored attack on Sikhs unjustly claimed the lives of over 30,000 people. They were assaulted, tortured, burned alive, and many Sikh women suffered from sexual violence. The “Widow Colony” in New Delhi still houses Sikh women who were assaulted, tortured, and forced to witness the murder of their families.
The acute psychological trauma that is left with a population after horrific assaults like this is often passed from generation to generation. Much of the Sikh community across the United States has not fully recovered as the memory of these events live on.
"If we fail to learn the lessons history teaches us, we are bound to repeat our mistakes,” said Assemblymember Jasmeet Bains (D-Delano), who introduced the resolution. “Recognizing what happened in 1984 as genocide against the Sikh faith is critical to learn and heal from this dark time in history. I want to thank Assemblymember Villapudua for standing up to demand justice for the Sikh community."
While the scars from these events may never fully heal, we have an important opportunity to support and stand in solidarity with our Sikh community by strongly condemning and calling out this mass assault as genocide.