Vol. XLII No. 28 July 15, 2018

Public meeting of Indo Canadian Workers Association

Joga Randhawa

A PUBLIC meeting of Indo Canadian Workers Association (ICWA) of Canada was organised in Surrey, Canada on June 30, 2018. Tikender Singh Panwar former deputy mayor of Shimla and member of the CPI(M)’s PD/Lok Lahar unit was the chief guest and the key note speaker. This public meeting was attended by near 100 people from different walks of life. Tikender had come to address the world cities congress in Montreal on climate change and on this occasion participated in the ICWA meeting.

The meeting was attended by representatives and prominent personalities from various democratic organisations of lower mainland of Vancouver. Jinny Sims the cabinet minister for citizens of British Colombia province, Harpal Bhatti former MLA from Haryana were among the prominent personalities.

ICWA secretary Harinderjit Sandhu welcomed all the participants and Surender Sangha coordinated the proceedings of the public meeting. Surender Sangha welcomed the participants.

Tikender gave an overview of the purpose of his visit to Montreal and the world conference on climate change. He emphasised the role of the cities in meeting the climate change challenge especially in a situation where Trump who leads the nation that happens to be the largest polluter on the earth has refused to cut down its emissions. He further stated that the world capitalist model of development is unsustainable and has led the earth to a disaster. This has to be reversed and for that sustainability solutions are to be developed which are linked to the system in which we are living. Hence the struggle of climate change is also a struggle against the present capitalist system. He further explained the socio-political situation of India and how the Left parties are intervening in the present conjuncture. A question-answer session followed next, moderated by Surender Dhesi. Later Tikender was felicitated by the ICWA. Surender Sangha offered the vote of thanks.

History of ICWA

The Indo Canadian Workers Association has a glorious history in not just standing for the rights of the immigrants in Canada but also in isolating the pro-Khalistan elements in Canada. The ICWA has firmly stood with the unity of the Indian nation even on a foreign soil. The period of late 80s and 90s when the Khalistan movement was rife in Punjab, the pro-Khalistani elements were controlling the gurudwaras in Vancouver and these were used to spread their secessionist ideology. The ICWA took them head on under the guidance of Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the leader of CPI (M) in that period and defeated them.

In Surrey in 1984 almost all the gurudwaras were controlled by the pro-Khalistani elements and the secular and moderates were removed. The main organisation leading such a move was the sikh youth federation and the world sikh organisation (WSO). Interestingly those who had constructed these gurudwaras were thrown out by the hardliners for them being moderates and secular. This continued till 1995. After that the moderates and the secular elements started gaining ground which had the ICWA as its backbone. In a short span all the 25 gurudwaras were freed from the hardliners and pro Khalistan elements. This was done in a systematic manner and the management of these gurudwaras was won in the elections by the moderates and the seculars.

Just to ensure that the moderates are sidelined the Akal Takht was used and a sermon was issued that in all the gurudwaras everyone has to sit on the ground and consume food. However in Surrey and Vancouver the practice was that a majority would use a chair and table to consume langar. This practice was forbidden by the sermon of the Akal Takht. The management of the gurudwaras led by the moderates defied this sermon. An ‘edict’ was  passed by the Akal Takht declaring  Balwant Singh Gill, Jarnail Singh Pandhol, Kulwant Dhesi, MS Gill Kuldeep Singh Thandi, Gurnam Singh Sughera, Giani Harkirat Singh as ‘tankhaiyas’. It meant a kind of conviction, which every one of them had to undergo for defying the ‘supreme order’. All of them defied this order and almost all the British Colombia gurudwaras which were public funded were under their control.

But the defiance was not easy. Kulwant Dhesi and daughters of Balwant Singh Gill were attacked with Kripans. But they stood to their ideology and kept the management under the control of the moderates and did not allow the gurudwara to become a mouthpiece of pro-Khalistan sermons. Hence the struggle for the unity of India was not just fought by the people of Punjab on the India soil but even on the foreign soil and stood firm to the tenets of brotherhood and unity.

The ICWA continues to work in the interest of the workers and the immigrants and for world peace and tranquility.