NORTH Delta MLA Ravi Kahlon was presented a medal of courage by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) on Thursday at his constituency office for raising the issue of Kashmir with the United Nations and speaking out for justice to the victims of “Sikh Genocide.”
Kahlon, who is known for his strong advocacy for human rights and social justice, has written to the United Nations on behalf of his constituents, who had raised concerns about the plight of their relatives in Kashmir asking for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the disputed region.
On August 5, 2019, the Indian government unilaterally scrapped special rights given to the state of Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, arresting local leaders.
The right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government claims that the act was necessary to stop terrorism in the only Muslim-majority state of India.
Political figures and activists who have been advocating for peaceful resolution of the problem of Kashmir, where people have been struggling for right to self-determination, have been detained indefinitely.
Kahlon wrote directly to the office of United Nations’ Human Rights Council Branch for the second time after October 2019. He hasn’t heard back yet from them. He reminded the UN High Commissioner about the concerns raised by his constituents.
In 2017, Kahlon had read out a statement in the BC legislature asking for justice to the victims of “Sikh Genocide.” Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all over India during the first week of November 1984 in a state-sponsored massacre following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
He is also vocal about systemic racism in Canada, and recently concluded his BC-wide tour to learn about the firsthand experiences of people of colour with bigotry and prejudices. He was instrumental in the restoration of the BC Human Rights Commission, which was disbanded by the previous Liberal government.
IAPI President Parshotam Dosanjh presented Kahlon with the medal. Among those who joined him on the occasion were prominent Punjabi poet Amrit Diwana and other IAPI members Tejinder Sharma, Sandeep Modgil and Gurpreet Singh.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, everyone, including Kahlon, wore masks during the ceremony.