NEW YORK, NY (TIP): Organized by the Sikh Cultural Society, Richmond Hill, New York, the Sikh Day Parade on April 27 in Manhattan, New York, attracted, as usual, large crowds of Sikh men, women and children from the Tri -States area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Besides, contingents came from as far as Philadelphia and Maryland.
An estimated 30,000 ( according to the organizers, 50, 000) Sikhs participated. The parade that started from 36th street and Madison Ave wound its way through the city and ended up at 26th Street and Madison Ave for the conference. The event is held annually to mark Vaisakhi, the harvest festival of Punjab that coincides with the day the Tenth Master of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, created the order of Khalsa in 1699. All along and at the conference, placards with Prof. Davinderpaul Singh Bhullar’s photograph were carried by the participants who raised slogans for freedom for Bhullar and denounced government of India for being unjust to the Sikhs. Pro Khalistan slogans were also raised. The parade was dedicated to Prof. Davinderpaul Singh Bhullar who is in death row in India. The Parade passed a resolution requesting President of USA to secure freedom for Prof. Bhullar. The memorandum to US President alleged atrocities on Sikhs in India in 1984 (Operation Blue Star in which “1600 innocent Sikhs were killed” and killing of Sikhs in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination when “3000 innocent Sikhs were brutally murdered”) and continued injustice to the community in India. It said Prof. Bhullar is being unjustly put to death even though there is no evidence of the crime he is said to have committed.
The resolution read, inter alia, ” Sikh Cultural Society on behalf of this 50,000 strong peaceful gathering of Sikhs from the Tri-State area, but in spirit of all the Sikh Americans pass the resolution to request Mr. Barack Obama, the President of USA, to use his good offices and ask Indian government to stop the execution of Prof. Bhullar” . The resolution was received by Harpreet Singh Sandhu, an official with the Director of Public Engagement, White House. The first to be asked to speak was the President of Sikh Youth of America, the most vocal Khalistani organization that was founded by Dr. Amarjit Singh of Washington. Gurvinder Singh Manna, in his 8 minute long speech called upon the Sikhs all over the world to raise their voice of protest against death to Prof. Bhullar. He said that Prof. Bhullar’s confessional statement was obtained under duress and there is no witness nor any other corroborative evidence to prove his guilt. Even the judgment of the three judge bench was a split judgment when the presiding judge Justice Shah did not find Prof. guilty. The President of India who rejected Prof. Bhullar’s mercy petition did so without following the proper process of consulting the presiding judge, since the law says in the case of a split judgment, President should confer with the presiding judge in deciding on a mercy petition. Manna called upon Sikhs to work tirelessly to have their homeland without which they will always be subjected to injustice.
Another noteworthy speaker at the parade conference was Ganga Singh Dhillon, one of the front ranking fighters for Sikh homeland, who, in spite of his frail health, was present to read out the resolution and present his viewpoint. He said, “sloganeering only helps government of India to brand Sikhs as separatists.” He noted that nothing could be achieved by raising slogans. The only way was to fight for Sikh homeland. Obviously, he was repeating himself when he went to Pakistan and from there organized the militant movement for Khalistan. Others who spoke included Boota Singh Kharaund, President of Shiromani Akali Dal , Mann (Simranjit Singh Mann ), Attorney Jaspreet Singh, Baljinder Singh Brar from Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar, Carterot, Gurmej Singh, President, Gurdwara Baba Makhan Shah Lobana, New York, and Hardev Singh Padda, President, Sikh Gurdwara, Flushing. Two former Khalistani leaders, Gurmit Singh Auluck and Paramjit Singh Ajarawat, from Washington appeared to be ignored by the organizers. Auluck used to be the principal voice of Khalistanis some 20 years ago. He held sway up to 2000 and then faded out. Paramjit Ajarawat also was a potent Khalistani voice but now seems to have lost esteem with the Sikh leaders.
They were invited to speak at the end when the gathering had almost left. Their disappointment was writ large on their faces. Contrary to their fate, resurrection of octogenarian Ganga Singh Dhillon, who has links in Pakistan, is surprising and intriguing. Among the political leaders and law makers present were Congresswoman Grace Meng, Council Member Mark Weprin, and Reshma Saujani who is seeking election to the Public Advocate in September, 2013. Gurdev Singh Kang, President of the Sikh Cultural Society which organizes the parade every year, expressed his gratitude to the participants for turning out in large numbers and celebrating the event in a befitting manner. He thanked the guest speakers, including the local politicians and law makers, for their time and valuable views they expressed.