NEW DELHI: The Ontario Assembly set a new precedent by carrying a motion that described the violence against Sikhs in India in 1984 as “genocide.”

The motion was moved by a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) of the ruling Liberal Party of Ontario Harinder Malhi. The Ministry of External Affairs responded to this today with: We have noted the passage of a Private Members Motion in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on April 6. We reject the misguided Motion which is based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and judicial process. Our views have been conveyed to the Government and political leadership of Canada.”

The motion was carried with 34 MPPs voting for and just five against. Those present constituted a third of the Assembly’s total strength of 107.

The government, as the MEA response states, has been in touch with Canada’s Liberal Party government as well as Ministers in Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet. However, it was clearly unable to prevent the Motion that now has become the official Canadian government position on the 1984 violence.

A senior Indian official has been quoted in a section of the media as saying that this could have an impact on bilateral ties. The official was quoted as saying, aid, “If they can’t manage their own party…they have to own the responsibility.” MPP was allowed to proceed with the motion, with India coming under attack over “intolerance.”

There is apprehension here that this motion could become open a Pandoras box. More so as Malhi introduced it with the statement that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario should “condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 Genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.” She said that the incidents after then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated could “only be described as genocide.”

Agencies add: Among those supporting the motion was Jagmeet Singh, MPP of the New Democratic Party or NDP, who had unsuccessfully moved a similar motion in June 2016. Singh, who is considered a serious contender to be the next leader of the national NDP, also criticised the Narendra Modi Government.

The NDP politician who was refused a visa to travel to India at the end of 2013, also said, “This is a country that continues to use visa denial as a form of silencing its critics.”

Sikhs gathered in the Assembly gallery to view the proceedings greeted the outcome with cheers and slogans. And almost immediate coverage on websites and journals.

The pro-Khalistan activist group Sikhs for Justice’s Director of International Policy Jatinder Singh Grewal stated, “All Sikhs applaud Ontario today and give thanks to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Liberal MPP Harinder Mahli for hearing us, appreciating the evidence that exists and officially recognizing that the murder of tens of thousands of Sikhs was an attempt at genocide. We will continue to press upon other governments here in Canada and globally to stand with us in Ontario on the side of justice.”