In the “official citation” dated April 29, the Connecticut general assembly congratulated the pro-Khalistan organization World Sikh Parliament “in recognition of the 36th anniversary of the declaration of Sikh independence”.
The citation resulted in outrage among Indian Americans with many of them urging Biden’s administration to condemn it.
Several Indian American organizations are calling on the Connecticut assembly to rescind the citation. But so far their demands have received little traction.
“This initiative is from a few fringe elements who have no interest in the state of Connecticut, but promoting their own personal divisive agenda,” said Thomas Abraham, chairman of the influential Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO).
“Indian American community in Connecticut consists of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. All these communities live together as one Indian community and Connecticut state has no business to comment on issues pertaining to local issues in India or supporting fringe elements to promote their divisive agenda,” Abraham said.
GOPIO has written to Connecticut State Senators and Assembly Representatives who introduced this citation to dissociate themselves from it.
Sikhs hold ‘Independence Day’ ceremonies in Norwich, CT
Courtesy: The Day
Downtown Norwich, CT, was awash in orange and yellow flags and banners Friday (April 29) as more than 60 members of the Sikh community and supporters celebrated Sikh Declaration of Independence Day.
Norwich marked the day with ceremonies, prayers for world peace, recognition awards and the raising of the Punjab flag outside City Hall.
The day marks the anniversary of April 29, 1986, when Sikhs issued a Declaration of Independence for the state of Khalistan, a region of Punjab in northern India at the border with Pakistan, and is recognized by the World Sikh Parliament as Sikh Declaration of Independence Day. Speakers at Friday’s ceremony in Norwich thanked city officials for joining events worldwide and becoming part of Sikh history.
Sikhs from throughout the state, New England, New York and Washington, D.C., joined the Norwich event, which included remarks by members of the World Sikh Parliament, an international political and advocacy organization.
The Sikh faith was founded in the 1400s, and today more than 500 Sikh families live in Connecticut; members of the community have lived in Norwich for more than 30 years. Dr. Amarjit Singh gave a brief history of the oppression of Sikhs over the centuries, including a tumultuous period from 1984 to 1994, when an estimated 100,000 Sikhs were killed in the northern region of India.
Speeches were interspersed with prayers and chants, not just for Sikh independence, but for world peace and the peace of all individuals everywhere. One participant waved a Ukrainian flag during the hourlong ceremony at City Hall and during a prayer vigil that followed the ceremony at the Public Art for Racial Justice Education mural on the Market Street parking garage on nearby Chelsea Harbor Drive.
Sikhs are participating in efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Sikh leaders said.
During prayers, Sikhs removed their shoes, so their feet would touch the ground and absorb the power of the earth, Manmohan Singh Bharara explained.
Friday’s City Hall ceremony featured exchanges of awards of recognition and appreciation and proclamations from the city and state General Assembly. Sikhs recognized city government leaders, Global City Norwich Liaison Suki Lagrito, who initiated holding the flagraising ceremony at City Hall, Norwich Community Development Corp. President Kevin Brown, Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angela Adams and several Sikh business and community leaders.
Leaders also recognized FBI community outreach specialist JoAnn Benson and public affairs specialist Charles Grady, both from the FBI office in New Haven, for their work to investigate recent vandalism of Sikh public education panels around the city as a possible hate crime.
Mural artists Emida Roller of Putnam and Samson Tonton of Norwich received plaques for their work to paint portions of the Public Art for Racial Justice Education — including an image of Jaswant Singh Khalra, a Sikh human rights leader who worked to identify more than 25,000 Sikhs killed and buried in mass graves in the early 1990s in India. In 1995, Khalra was arrested and disappeared, his body was never found.
The Rev. David Good, who co-founded the regionwide effort to create PARJE murals, and Shiela Hayes, coordinator of the Norwich mural project, also received recognition awards.
The group proceeded from City Hall to the mural for a world peace prayer vigil and later to the Sikh Art Gallery at 7 Clinic Drive for a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony, sponsored by the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce.