Local Sikhs recognized at Council meeting

Town Council chair Michael Riccio reads the proclamation that was presented to the Sikh community during Monday’s council meeting.  The plaque acknowledges the 1984 genocide in India.  Southington is the first community on the east coast to pay tribute to the 1984 killings.

Town Council chair Michael Riccio reads the proclamation that was presented to the Sikh community during Monday’s council meeting. The plaque acknowledges the 1984 genocide in India. Southington is the first community on the east coast to pay tribute to the 1984 killings.

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

This month marked the 32nd anniversary of the attacks on the Sikh communities in India, which took the lives of 150,000 people. On Monday, Nov. 28, the Southington Town Council took a break at the start of their meeting to recognize the killings.

With a proclamation from the town, Southington became the first community on the east coast to recognize a series of attacks against Sikh people in India in 1984. In a short ceremony, the council officially acknowledged the genocide, offered condolences for the anti-Sikh pogroms, and recognized the local temple for its ongoing partnership in the community with a proclamation from the town.

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Members of the Town Council showed their support for the local Sikh community during the meeting on Nov. 28.

“You’re not just up here to get citations from the council,” said councilor Ed Pocock III.  “You’re actively involved in the community.”

Pocock served as captain of the police force during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Pocock recalled the educational seminars that the Sikhs provided to the officers during the days that followed.

“I also want to complement you folks on your amazing musical talents,” councilor Tom Lombardi added.  “I’ve been to several events over the years, and the group of band members that you bring together is simply fantastic.”

Kanwaljit Singh of Southington, president of the Global Sikh Association, accepted the plaque on behalf of the local Sikh community.

Sikhism, which was founded in northern India during the 15th century, has grown to be in the top ten largest religions in the world. In 1984, the Sikh communities in India were viciously attacked, amounting in large casualties.

Southington has an active Sikh community, with a Gurdwara (temple) Guru Nanak Darbar at 1610 West St. Temple officials are active in the Southington Interfaith Clergy Association and the local congregation has been a big supporter for local food drives and community events.

Councilor Rev. Victoria Triano said, “People fear what they don’t know and what they can’t understand…We will always remember that Holocaust to your people and we will do everything in our power to make sure that understanding prevails here in Southington.”

The proclamation reads in part, “While this destruction was going on, the eyewitnesses, journalists, and human rights activists had compiled evidence showing that government and law enforcement officials organized, participated in, and failed to intervene to prevent the brutal killings through direct and indirect means.”

Members of the Southington Sikh temple spoke during the public communications portion of the evening to thank the council.

“I urge other cities of Connecticut to also declare it as genocide so at least Sikhs outside India can have some closure,” said Swaranjit Singh Khalsa.

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