What is komagata maru?
The Komagata Maru incident involved a Japanese ship Komagata Maru that sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver Canada, in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, British India. Of them 24 were admitted to Canada, but the other 352 passengers were not allowed. The ship was forced to return to India. This was one of several incidents in the history of early 20th century involving exclusion laws in both Canada and the United States designed to keep out immigrants of only Asian origin. Justin Trudeau from his election campaign, selection of cabinet members, welcoming of immigrants and with many other instances has pushed the bar up and has been a towering presence in progressive and inclusive politics. Trudeau has gone a step further and will tender a formal apology for the “Komagata Maru” incident against Indian immigrants. There are two primary reasons why Trudeau will apologize, one he owns up for the exclusionary laws of Canada then and two because most of the victims of Komagata Maru were Sikhs who are also proud Canadian citizens.
What the apology could mean
Like Jallianwala bagh, Komagata Maru remains as a scar in the Indian psyche which refuses to heal. The apology might not change anything from the past certainly it goes a long way in defining a good future, a future where there is mutual trust and respect. Trudeau is not the first to apologize to crimes against humanity. In the past Former German Chancellor bowed and apologized to the Jews for the horror they had to undergo. Apology could heal wounds, strengthen Democracy, for it is the victims of state centered crime who often lose faith in Democracy.
A case for Indian leaders
Thousands of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have been victims of violence and clashes where the state was involved. Politicians across the board could do great service to the nation, by bowing down to the citizens and communities who have been victims of violence. There has been too much blame game in politics, the lack of courage among Indian politicians is evident from the fact that no politician has yet took responsibility or owned up and come forward to apologize for the victims. An apology could heal wounds, bind societies and build trust among Indian citizens. The Congress owes an apology to the Sikhs, many leaders owe and apology to Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims, the AFSPA continues to subject people to suffering in J & K and Manipur. Mr Narendra Modi could come forward and apologize for the victims of Gujarat pogrom. I invite the readers to add more to the list. It is acts like these that transcends an individual from being a politician to being a statesman.Former Australian Prime Minister refused to apologize to the aborigines and Tony Blair for Jallianwala bagh and the list is big. From the famine deaths to cruelty in Prisons, David Cameron owes a lot of apology to India.
The Logical Indian lauds Justin Trudeau for the tendering an apology to the Indians who got killed and who were denied to enter Canada during the Komagatta Maru incident. It sets a new precedent for the world to emulate.